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Saturday, May 8, 2010

DONATE LIFE ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS-MISSISSIPPI-KIDNEY TRANSPLANT CEMENTS WOMEN'S FRIENDSHIP

Source: Clarion Ledger

The kidney inside Jackie Chatmon — the one that works — was inside her best friend less than three months ago.

As Chatmon's friend, Tina Angelique Scafidi Dykes of Madison, put it, "I didn't need it, so why should I hold onto it?"

As Chatmon put it: "I can never get rid of her now."

Even before the transplant, few friends could have been closer than these women - separated in age by nine years; separated, some might say, by the color of their skin.

But Chatmon's race against time was the only race that mattered to them.

On Feb. 17, time may have doubled for Chatmon.

That was the day of the transplant. The day Chatmon, 43, of Jackson, calls her "new birthday."

The day that made history at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

"This was the first time we had a living donor give to a person of another race," said Dr. Alan Hawxby, the surgeon who extracted Dykes' kidney.

The donor, Dykes, is white; Chatmon, the recipient, is black.

"Typically, donors are blood relatives," Hawxby said.

"Until 10 or 15 years ago, transplant programs insisted on using only them."

Today, the difference is the new anti-rejection medication, Hawxby said.

It's better at coaxing the recipient's body into accepting another person's organ.

Still, relatives are the usual donors; they are usually the first to step up. But none of Chatmon's relatives had the right blood type.

No one who offered Chatmon a kidney was in Blood Group O. No one, as it turned out, but Dykes.

Dykes' offer didn't really surprise her mother; it just shocked her.

Now 34, Angelique Dykes, born Scafidi, was 5 when her father died.

"She is my only child," said Brenda Scafidi, 64, of Pelahatchie.

"As you can imagine, I was afraid when she told me she was going to do this.

"I was afraid for her children, my only grandchildren; and for her husband Kevin."

In a way, it was losing her father that made Angelique a giver, Scafidi said.

"I believe her father's passing opened something up to her," Scafidi said.

She made friends fast and often. They took the place of the siblings she'd never have.

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