In case you missed it, there was a heartwarming story in the news about two kidney transplant recipients.
One, a young man with an autoimmune disease that destroyed his kidneys, was lucky enough to receive the gift of a kidney from his sister.
When the new kidney started to fail from the same disease process, he was offered the chance to have it removed so that another, older patient (who did not suffer from the same disease process ) could try to benefit from it.
Charitably, both he and his sister (the original donor) accepted this plan.
The older gentleman (who happens to be a retired surgeon) is now in good condition, off of dialysis, and feeling better than he has in years.
According to news reports, this is the first documented U.S. case of ‘kidney recycling.’
For you medical buffs, the disease in question is focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (“FSGS“). And it’s not unusual that it would harm the donated kidney-the disease process occurs independent of the origin of the kidney (i.e. even if the donated kidney had come from an unrelated donor, his FSGS would have started going to town on that one as well). According to the literature, this happens ~40% of the time.
Yet when removed from the FSGS environment, the kidney recovered function and now works well in a new recipient.