ECU, Vidant Medical Center provide gift of life via four-person kidney exchange

Written By  Beth Anne Atkins  on  Dec. 30, 2013
ECU, Vidant Medical Center provide gift of life via four-person kidney exchange

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Last week, doctors with the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Medical Center teamed to perform a four-person kidney exchange at the hospital.

Dr. Robert Harland, professor and chief of surgical immunology and transplantation at ECU and chief of transplant surgery at Vidant Medical Center, said the procedures were successful and allowed two of the hospital’s wait list patients to receive living donor kidneys instead of potentially waiting years for a kidney from a deceased donor.

“This is the culmination of a process that has taken several months,” Harland said. “Each of these recipients had a willing donor who was not compatible with them. By finding better matches from our list of incompatible donors, we were able to successfully perform two living donor transplants, which can be performed electively and have a longer lifespan than a transplant from a deceased donor.”

Others experts involved in the procedure included the following:

· Dr. Claire Morgan (ECU Physicians)

· Dr. Carl Haisch (ECU Physicians)

· Dr. Reginald Obi (ECU Physicians)

· Dr. Heather Jones (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

· Dr. Kristel McLawhorn (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

· Dr. Scott Kendrick (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

· Dr. Lorita Rebellato (ECU associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine director of histocompatibility lab)

The donors and patients are the following:

· Jamaal Peele of Greenville donated to Sherrie Hoopes of Jacksonville, NC.

· Leslie Smith of Bevinsville, Ky donated to Brenda Peele of Greenville.

In these transplants, the two recipients who needed a kidney had antibodies that reacted with the donor tissue types, predicting a much higher risk of rejection. However, by exchanging kidneys, recipients could avoid these incompatibilities and receive a kidney transplant with a more successful outcome.

The donors met the recipients for the first time Monday, and all are doing well.

Both donors underwent their procedures laparoscopically, which allowed the donation to occur with smaller incisions. The donors were discharged from the hospital in two days and typically experience a quicker recovery than traditional kidney donation surgery.

The recipients are off dialysis and have normal kidney function. They were discharged at three and four days after surgery, the usual length of stay.

This is the second kidney exchange performed by the transplant program at Vidant Medical Center, following a six-person exchange performed in 2011. Harland estimates that about 500 paired exchange kidney transplants were performed in the US in 2013, representing less than 10 percent of the approximately 6,000 living donor kidney transplants performed. However, there has been a rapid growth in this transplant option over the past five years. The first paired kidney exchanges were performed in the US in 2000.

In addition to maintaining an internal paired exchange list, patients listed at Vidant Medical Center have available the option of being listed for a nationwide exchange list, further increasing the option for patients with an incompatible donor who are awaiting kidney transplantation


Vidant Health, a mission-driven, not-for-profit Corporation, owns, leases or has a majority membership interest in nine eastern North Carolina hospitals. The health system includes Vidant Beaufort Hospital, Vidant Bertie Hospital, Vidant Chowan Hospital, Vidant Duplin Hospital, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, The Outer Banks Hospital, Vidant Medical Center, Vidant Pungo Hospital, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, Vidant Home Health and Hospice; Vidant Wellness Centers, Vidant Medical Group and physician practices, and is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Find out more on the web at

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University is focused on educating primary care physicians to serve North Carolina and particularly eastern North Carolina and improve the health status of eastern North Carolina. The school admitted its first four-year class in 1977 and traditionally admits only North Carolina residents.