Good will helps people get kidneys through transplant chains | David Wahlberg 
Mitzi Nuyens of Wausau, was the last recipient in a record-setting kidney transplant chain.

In yoga class, Kathy Hart heard about a 7-year-old boy who needed a kidney. She thought of her brother, who died young from a rare disease, and decided to donate a kidney to the boy — or anyone.

Peggy Hansmann’s kidney disorder made her ankles swell and left the special education teacher so tired she had to nap to make it through the day.

Lynn Johnson offered a kidney to his wife, Hansmann’s sister, who has the same disorder. When a better match came along for his wife, Johnson — who was not a match for Hansmann — said he would donate to a stranger if it would help Hansmann get a transplant.

Mitzi Neyens, 77, figured she was too old to get a kidney. But the kidney dysfunction she had lived with for 30 years was getting worse, and she wasn’t ready to give up.

Early this year, Hart, Hansmann, Johnson and Neyens became part of the nation’s largest kidney transplant chain. Such chains, which started eight years ago, connect people who need kidneys and their willing but mismatched donors with other incompatible pairs to find suitable donors for all recipients involved.

The four participants, from Wisconsin and Minnesota, were links in a chain that included 70 people in 35 transplants at 25 hospitals in 15 states and the District of Columbia over three and a half months. Organized by the National Kidney Registry, the chain started and ended at UW Hospital, looping through Madison once in between. Continue reading

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