Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center - Houston, TX

Texas Woman Saves Two Through One Kidney Donation

In an incredible act of unprecedented giving, a young Texas woman saved the lives of two individuals through her one kidney donation last month.

Monique Wisdom's mother, Annette Kaiser, was dying and desperately needed a kidney transplant. Fortunately, the 23-year-old was a good match for her mom and their transplant surgery was scheduled two months ahead of time. The surgery still took place, but Wisdom gave her kidney to a stranger instead.

In this remarkable example of selflessness, Monique gave her kidney to a 36-year-old man who needed a kidney from her blood type. His own wife was not a match for him, but she was a match for Monique's mother. So, they swapped.

"My mom helped save my life when I was young, so I was happy to save hers," Wisdom said. "And then I was given a chance to save another person too. I was worried at first, but once I found out this man's wife was a match for my mom, I knew everything was good. It's really neat, and I'm proud of myself."

There is a growing trend of kidney swaps, where patients without matching donors avoid waiting years for deceased donated kidneys, and at the same time living donors get their loved ones the lifesaving transplants they need. In most cases, two or more incompatible pairs are crisscross matches, and they swap -- usually through networks supported by transplant programs.

But Monique made this decision out of the goodness of her own heart.

Jesus Martinez was in great need of a kidney transplant -- in fact, all five of his siblings suffered from diabetes and kidney disease too. He and his wife were devastated when they learned she was ineligible to give him one of her kidneys.

Dr. Osama Gaber decided to look into an internal kidney swap to help Martinez. Very quickly, he found that Wisdom was a match for Martinez as an O blood type who can donate to any other blood type. And miraculously, Martinez' wife, Imelda, was an equally good match for Wisdom's mother.

Wisdom had no reason to donate her own kidney to a stranger, because she was already a good match for her mother. But when Dr. Gaber approached her about the idea of saving two lives through her donation, Wisdom only took a few minutes to decide. And when the four met before their transplant, tears of joy confirmed that Wisdom made the right decision.

The two transplant surgeries were successful, and all four patients were at home just days later.

"I guess we are just all the perfect match," Wisdom said.