NYC hospital does six-way kidney swap

Published: Sep. 14, 2007 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Feb. 6, 2008 at 12:28 AM EST
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NEW YORK (NBC NEWS CHANNEL) -- A New York hospital has completed a marathon series of transplants that gave three people new kidneys and a new lease on life.

The round-robin kidney transplants took place August 30th at Manhattan's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

A kidney swap is a paired exchange worked out when a person in need of a transplant has a willing donor with an incompatible blood type.

A match is made with a second recipient and donor and two transplants are possible.

In this case there were three.

"Instead of utilizing only patients who have incompatible donors we took it one step further and we said what if we take people who have compatible donors but utilize them to facilitate swaps also," explained Dr. Lloyd Ratner.

The multiple kidney swap took a lot of heart and involved two married couples and two individual men.

John Feal, founder of the Fealgood Foundation for 9-11 First Responders was one of the donors.

"I feel honored just to be here and sit next to my new buddy," Feal said after the transplants.

Feal donated his kidney to Eleanor Burns.

Eleanor's husband Kwok Eng donated his kidney to Tracy Simms-Zucco.

Mrs. Zucco's husband gus donated to Paul Grossfield.

"If it wasn't for something like this we'd have been looking at years and years more on dialysis," Zuuco said.

Paul Grossfield agreed.

"It's a completely different outlook on life and now we have something to look forward to and have a cause to work for from there on in."

All six donors and recipients have been released from the hospital and say they have a new bond with each other for life.