Group meets for first time after being involved in a kidney exchange chain

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

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ATLANTA —

There is a growing shortage of organs for transplants, but a local hospital is quickly matching people using a paired exchange program.

Channel 2's Craig Lucie met six people involved in a kidney exchange chain at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. He was with the group as they met for the first time on Tuesday.

Steve Foster donated his kidney to save his wife, Simone Foster, who was suffering from lupus.

"(I've had) four blood clots. One in my lung, two in my legs and one in my arm," Simone Foster said.

Simone Foster's mother wasn't a match, so their doctor told them about the Kidney Paired Exchange Program.

"My husband said he was tired of seeing me suffer on dialysis and he wanted me to have a better life, so he decided he would give up one of his kidneys for me," Simone Foster said.

As soon as Simone Foster and Steve Foster signed up they became part of a kidney transplant chain.

"I was on the list one day when I got the call," Symone Foster said.

Marie Cobb got the call after posting an ad online.

"It's actually a yard sale sign on Facebook," Cobb said.

Jessica Smith randomly came across that ad.

"I guess someone on my friend list liked her ad and it caught my attention," Smith said.

But in order for Cobb to get a new kidney, Smith had to give up one of hers. They weren't a match, but a woman named Debbie in Savannah was, so the chain continued.

Dr. Miguel Tan, of Piedmont Atlanta, says the demand for kidneys has spiked and the supply is down so they are trying to change that.

"If a recipient gets a living donor kidney then they don't have to wait (and) long-term outcomes are better," Tan told Lucie.

"It's giving someone else a chance at life," Symone Foster said.

For more information on the transplant program, click here.