Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Medics beat blizzard to make kidney transplant happen

Chicago Tribune

Paramedic Pete Amato, left, talks with Stony Brook University Hospital patient Melanie Chirichella in her room on Jan. 26, 2016, in Stony Brook, N.Y. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

Melanie Chirichella had been waiting a year and a half for a kidney transplant when she finally got the call from her doctors Saturday that they had found a perfect match in South Carolina.

"It was like a miracle," the 64-year-old told The Associated Press. "When she called and said, 'We have a kidney for you,' I almost fell off the bed."

But there was a problem: A blizzard was raging up and down the East Coast. The medical team would have to beat the elements and the clock to make sure the transplant surgery happened while the organ, taken from a brain-dead patient on Friday morning, was still usable.

In the end, Chirichella got her new kidney, but it required a combination of daring and improvisation, maybe even a little recklessness. And more than once, it looked as if she and the organ might not even make it to the operating room. Continue reading


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