Stories about: kidney swap

Kidney swap saves two lives, eternally links two families

Kidney Swap - Dillon and his mom

When Dillon McCarty was 13, he received a very special gift from his stepfather Nicholas Gula—a new kidney.

But Gula, 34, didn’t donate his kidney to Dillon. Instead, he gave it to a stranger, a 29-year-old man also in need of a kidney transplant in Atlanta. And in return, the man’s wife gave her kidney to Dillon.

The carefully choreographed “operation” involved two selfless donors, two flights, two states, three hospitals and four surgeries—more than one thousand miles apart—inexplicably tying two families.

“It was a dream,” says Gula. “I was saving two lives. Words can’t even express how I felt.”

The reason for the kidney swap was simple. To be a match, a donor’s blood type and antibody testing must be compatible with the recipient. Dillon had relatives—including his stepfather—who were willing to donate, but those donors were incompatible. Only his mother Samantha McCarty was a match, but not one that would work for Dillon.

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