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'A second chance at life' | Strangers help each other in 'kidney swap' at Memorial Hermann

SIx people are recovering after swapping organs to help each other.

HOUSTON — Six people are recovering from organ transplant surgery after agreeing to a three-way kidney swap.

The chain started with Ashley Powell and her boyfriend, Chris Carter. Chris lived with kidney failure for more than five years. He did dialysis for nine hours a night.

Ashley offered to donate her kidney to him when they first started dating, but the surgery wasn’t approved.

Then years later, Ashley got a call from Memorial Hermann Hospital asking if she’d consider an “organ swap." The idea was for her to donate a kidney to a stranger, then someone else would donate a kidney to Chris.

“She was like, ‘it’s not only two people…its three people. If you say yes, three people will get a kidney. One has been waiting longer than Chris.’ So, voila. I said, 'OK I’ll do it,'” said Ashley.

In February, Ashley underwent surgery to donate her kidney to a man named Michael Hooks. In exchange, Michael’s sister, Peggy Baird, donated her kidney to another stranger, Kimberly Ards. Kimberly’s coworker and best friend, Richi Varghese completed the puzzle by donating her kidney to Chris.

“God was all in it. God put it together. God had been molding that kidney for me for 5 years,” said Kimberly.

Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, Director of Transplant Nephrology at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann, helped connect the patients to their matches.

All six patients are recovering well.

The group met for the first time this week at Memorial Hermann Hospital. It was an opportunity for each organ recipient to express their gratitude.

“Thank you. Thank you for helping give me a second chance at life. I’m thankful for you,” said Chris Carter.

“Those are angels. You can’t get more angelic than that,” said Kimberly.

Stephanie Whitfield on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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