The Gift Of Life This Christmas For Three Transplant Recipients

An organ transplant believed to be the first of its kind in the Carolinas is giving three people and their loved ones the gift of life just in time for the holidays.

Three people in Eastern Carolina needed kidneys and each had a willing kidney donor who wasn't compatible with them. But doctors discovered that if each donor switched who they were giving their kidney to, all three would have matches.

Pitt County Memorial Hospital doctors say they successfully performed what's believed to be the first six-person kidney exchange in the Carolinas last week. Thursday the recipients met their kidney donors for the first time.

The donors say they're glad they were able to help someone and have their loved one helped, too. The recipients - Lynnette Collins of Jamesville, Joe Kalinowski of Greenville and Stephanie Richardson of Hollister -say they feel like they have a new lease on life.

James Collins wanted to donate his kidney to his mom but it wasn't a match, so it went to Richardson. Richardson's mom Darlene donated her kidney to Kalinowski. Kalinowski's friend from Tennessee donated his to Lynnette Collins. Collins says, "This was the perfect time of year that this could have happened. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, this too is just like birth within itself. It's like giving me new life all over again."

Dr. Robert Harland says he's hoping more kidney exchanges like this will occur in the future, saying the success rates for living donor kidney transplants are higher than those coming from deceased donors.

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  • by Nora Location: Richmond, VA on Dec 29, 2011 at 06:28 PM
    God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
  • by Michelle Richardson Location: Hollister nc on Dec 23, 2011 at 12:08 PM
    I've been knowing Stephanie and her mom for years they are wonderful people and I could'nt be happier. They are strong and they have strong faith.I see it all as a miracle from God. Best wishes to each recipient and donor. Praying for you and thinking of you. Happy Holidays!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 23, 2011 at 12:07 PM
    All good until the donor needs that kidney. Not saying I wouldn't donate though.
  • by David J Location: Nashville on Dec 23, 2011 at 11:20 AM
    The generosity of live organ donors is wonderful. It's a shame we need so many live organ donors. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 14,800 members, including 432 members in North Carolina.
    • reply
      by Lee on Dec 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM in reply to David J
      People need to understand that weather you are a donor or not the selection process is based on ones ability to pay. Middle class are usually left in the cold. Everyone donates except the hospitals, they are in it for the money, they profit from the whole process in the millions of dollars. So when you donate always keep in mind your charity dosen't always go to the person who needs it the most. It is based on who can pay the quickest.
      • reply
        by Kathy on Dec 23, 2011 at 01:30 PM in reply to Lee
        That is absolutely not true. Most of the recipients have medicaid anyway so they will pay. Don't put a damper on this wonder miracle x3. You should be ashamed.
        • reply
          by Lee on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:31 AM in reply to Kathy
          Wake up Alice this is not wonderland,Medicaid is paid by the middle class not awarded to the middle class so middle class is in the cold. Accept the facts and see it for what it is.
  • by Anonymous Location: Washington on Dec 23, 2011 at 05:44 AM
    I wonder so many times how people are able to meet the recipients of organ donation. I made the decission several years ago to donate a family members organs to help me with the grievivg process and maybe get some closure knowing some good would come out of my families loss. I have asked several times could I meet the luckiest people in the world. The same people who were so caring during their time of need were now rude and showed no care in the world. Yet I continue to read of the families that have met each other. I can't help but wonder how they did it. I want nothing more than to see how they are doing.
  • by Me Location: NC on Dec 23, 2011 at 05:42 AM
    What a wonderful story. This will be the best Christmas gift they'll ever receive. I'm sure the donors will receive a blessing as well. What a great example of caring, compassion and love!
  • by Larranaga Location: Greenville on Dec 23, 2011 at 04:54 AM
    It's great to see a 3 miracles in one day. God is great .
  • by To Joe From The Post Office Lady on Dec 23, 2011 at 04:29 AM
    Joe, if you read this, know how happy I am for you! The last time I saw you, you had mentioned being sick but I had no idea what you were dealing with. Wishing you the best and a very Merry Christmas!!! Congratulations on your new lease on life, and to the others as well!
    • reply
      by anonymous on Dec 23, 2011 at 02:24 PM in reply to To Joe From The Post Office Lady
      Joe is also a very special friend to me as well. it does my heart great wonders to see that he has another chance at life once again. love you JOE!!!!!
  • by Kat on Dec 22, 2011 at 09:58 PM
    That is an amazing story! My father in law was the recipient of a kidney a few months ago after many years of dialysis, it is a wonderful gift of life, and HOPE! Well wishes and prayers for all families involved!
  • by Jimmy Bubba Hardison Location: Raleigh NC on Dec 22, 2011 at 09:00 PM
    I now live in Raleigh NC but grew up and went to Jamesville High 1978. With all that is happening in the world, it always comes down to family and friends. So glad for all of the people and wish you much success.
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