First-ever kidney transplant from Web site donor

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112551175312163.jpg’, ‘Photo Provided’, ‘Pictured with his wife and 3-month-old daughter, Bill Lundborg received a kidney transplant from a stranger from Canada—the first international donor-recipient connected from new Web site ‘);

Site endorsed by various health officials, ethicists and doctors across the country

Canton, Mass.—Bill Lundborg’s kidneys were failing, and he needed a transplant. On July 15, at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, he received his transplant because of a stranger from Canada he met on—Trent Fenwick from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, who gave a kidney to Lundborg, a man he’s never met.

This was the first international kidney transplant from a stranger found on a commercial Web site— This was MatchingDonors’ 14th surgery in the past nine months.

The story Bill Lundborg wrote on read: “I am 46 years old, 6’6 and 270 lbs. I am married and have two beautiful children. My son Connor is 2 years old, and my daughter is 3 months old. I found out I had PKD about two years ago and had gotten it from my father’s side of the family (he died at age 43 in 1973). We now believe it was from complications of PKD that ended his life early, but back then he was not tested for this. The doctors have given me about three to four months before I will need dialysis. I am extremely fearful of dialysis because I work for a small company, and I don’t think they will work through this issue with me giving me the opportunity to support my family. My wife and my half-sister (my only living relative) were going to donate one of their kidneys but they are A blood type and are not matches for me. In my earlier years, I did not want to have children because I was afraid that something would happen to me, and I did not want them to grow up in the same situation that I did. When I met my wife, these fears went away, and we decided to start a family. My children and my wife are my life. All I want is to be there for my children as they grow up, and not put them in the same situation I was in or not be able to have the quality of life they deserve.”

Trent read Bill’s story on and wrote back: “I am learning that in life many people do not have the opportunity to reach all of their goals and dreams because of health issues. I have been given the gift of having healthy organs, and I would like to help someone attain their full potential and maybe some of their dreams. My brother in-law passed away many years ago, and I know that he was an organ donor, so I know his organs gave someone a new lease on life. I donate blood quite regularly and I understand the gift of life. This opportunity I have to help someone is truly a blessing for me.” is a year-old Internet service based in Massachusetts. Patients on transplant lists put their profiles on the Web site, and potential donors browse the site for a life they want to help save. Donors are not compensated, since it is against the law to have any financial benefit from organ donation.

Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, one of the Web site founders, said, “Patients are asked to pay a membership fee, but they don’t pay a fee if they can’t afford it.” Many praise as a creative, entrepreneurial response to this deadly disparity, and 100 percent of the money paid for patient memberships is applied to running the site.

Since’s inception, directed living organ donations have increased to historic numbers. According to, from Jan. 5, 2005, to April 15, 2005, out of the 1,164 donors recovered for transplantation, 650 were from deceased donors and 514 were from living donors.

“We believe that if more people were better educated on the ability to be a live organ donor, and we add in the personal communication between potential organ donors and patients needing an organ, the number of donors will increase, and so will the probability of a patient receiving their much-needed organ. We already have over 2,100 potential donors on our site waiting to find patients needing organs,” said Dr. Jeremiah Lowney,’s medical director.

“ is the most comprehensive searching system available. Other organizations concentrate mainly on the passive anonymous portion of finding organ donors—leaving little or no communication between patients and potential donors,” Lowney added. has had incredible success in it’s first 12 months: has an extremely high success rate—most patient members that have been on the site for at least 30 days have been offered an organ by a potential donor.

At least 21 patient members have upcoming surgery dates with their donors found on

Immediately after its first surgery in October 2004, MatchingDonors had more than 2 million visitors on a weekly basis. now has more than 100 patients with active profiles and more than 2,180 potential donors on the site. New patients and potential donors sign up daily. is recommended and used by many doctors across the United States, including some of the most prestigious transplant surgeons and centers.

As of June 30, 2005, there are roughly 88,772 patients waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Yet, from January 2005 to April 15, 2005, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit organization contracted with the U.S. Department of Health, there were only 2,273 organ transplants performed in the United States.

Every day, 17 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ, such as a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, or lung. This creates a national crisis that has led even President George W. Bush to publicly encourage private organizations to raise awareness of the important need for organ and tissue donors.

Currently, patients waiting for an organ donation are placed on a national waiting list through the United Network for Organ Sharing. A computer system matches patients to donor organs according to objective criteria, such as blood and tissue type, immune status, medical urgency and time spent on the waiting list. This ranking system determines which patients are offered available organs. This process is extremely important in anyone’s organ search, but now offers a way to enhance the search with a more active approach.’s main objective is to search the world to find potential live donors for people in need of organ transplants. Patient members of provide a personal biography as well as pictures of their choice to display on the Web site, which will create an interest in them and their life story. When patients in need of an organ transplant place themselves into’s database, their information will be promoted on the Web site. advertises and promotes its Web site in many different ways through extensive public relations networking to increase potential donors viewing the site.

The personal connection provides is key to finding a potential live donor. According to the National Kidney Foundation, “Nearly one out of four (23.4 percent) of 1,000 people queried told pollsters that they would be ‘likely’ to consider donating a kidney or a portion of their liver or lung to help save the life of someone they did not know.” Many people feel more comfortable considering offering a live donation to someone with whom they may have a connection to or a common bond.

From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2005, issue

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