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Texas hospital performs complicated, 10-person kidney swap

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- A Texas hospital's kidney swap program faced one of its greatest logistical challenges when doctors pulled off a 10-way organ transplant that saved the lives of five people.

Doctors at Houston Methodist hospital said the complicated swap originated when John "HB" Berliski lost both of his kidneys to polycystic kidney disease and his wife, Tara, offered to give him one of hers.

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The doctors explained to the couple that while they were a match, John Berliski had type AB blood, which means he is a universal recipient and could accept a kidney from anyone. The unique situation made the couple ideal participants in the hospital's kidney swap program.

Misael Gonzalez, who was also diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, was offered a kidney by his mother, Teresa Salcedo, but they decided to join the kidney swap program so he could receive an organ from a younger donor.

Meanwhile, Debra Lewing, who was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, was offered a kidney by her boss, Dawn Thomas, but the women discovered their blood types did not match.

The six people ended up in the same kidney swap chain, along with a pair of cousins and a pair of sisters, and five kidneys were taken from donors and placed into recipients. John Berliski received a kidney from an AB type donor, who can only donate to another AB type patient, while his wife's kidney went to Justin Barrow, whose cousin was not a close enough match.

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"It's a very complex, logistical task, but the happiness the patients display, the fact that they can get their transplants, really have new hope for resuming their life, is very gratifying," Dr. Osama Gaber, director of surgery at Houston Methodist, told KTRK-TV.

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