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The benefits of a paired kidney exchange program

Ben Raney was diagnosed with a kidney disease in the mid-1990s.

“I went on dialysis for eight months and it went as well as it could go,” says Ben. “I received my first kidney from a young man who lost his life in a car wreck on Nov. 16, 1995.”

Years after his first transplant, Ben began to get sick again and had a hard time maintaining his energy level.

“He would have to take naps in the middle of the day, which wasn’t his typical behavior,” says Lisa Raney, Ben’s wife. “It became evident to us that he was either going to have to go on dialysis or have another transplant, or both.”

Ben’s expert team of doctors at Piedmont explained all of the options.

“This time around we were more aware of the possibility of living donors,” Lisa says. “I was reading a lot about that and knew that transplants from living donors were more successful.”

Lisa underwent testing to see if she could be a living donor for Ben, but it turned out she was not a match.

“I’ve very seldom cried myself to sleep at night, but that night I did,” says Lisa. “It took a couple of weeks to get through the disappointment. And then I thought about continuing to be evaluated to see if I was acceptable to be a donor for what is called a paired exchange program.”

In the paired exchange program, Lisa could donate her kidney to another patient in need so Ben could move to the top of the transplant list. Lisa was chosen for the program and she was able to donate her kidney.

“There’s no doubt what she did created the means for me to get a kidney very quickly,” says Ben. 

A selfless act

Though Lisa wishes she had been a match for her husband, she is grateful she was able to help another patient in need.

“This is even better because in this case, it may have allowed the doctors to find a better kidney for Ben, one that is a better match than mine may have been,” says Lisa. “And I was able to donate to someone else and help another individual and another family. It’s very gratifying to help somebody else at the same time.”

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