10:22 AM

Win Win Win

Life-changing three-way paired kidney transplants performed at LVHN

When Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) patients Ryan Genery, 28, John Gallo, 70, and Alfonso Severino, 62, each needed a lifesaving kidney transplant, they had a loved one willing to be a living donor. The bad news: None was a medical match.

But all was not lost. What if each of the three kidney donors could indirectly help their loved one by donating a healthy kidney to a medically compatible stranger? That’s exactly what happened with the first-ever three-way kidney paired exchange at LVHN, the only organ transplant center in the region.

On May 2, 2018, Steven Genery (father of Ryan) anonymously donated one of his healthy kidneys to John Gallo. James Gallo (younger brother of John) donated to Alfonso Severino. Ysabel Severino (wife of Alfonso) donated to Ryan Genery. A win-win-win.

Kidney Swaps

Three-way kidney transplants have been done at LVHN among three hospitals, with donor kidneys transported among them. This was the first time the surgery was performed entirely within the health network with patients who were mutually compatible. “Operating on six people in one day was a huge logistical undertaking,” says Michael Moritz, MD, with LVPG Transplant Surgery. Moritz was in the operating room 13 hours that day, starting with donors James Gallo and Steven Genery, and ending with recipients Alfonso Severino and John Gallo. Meanwhile, Patty Liu, MD, also with LVPG Transplant Surgery, performed the kidney transplant of donor Ysabel Severino to Ryan Genery in a different room, with a third surgeon, Pradip Chakrabarti, MD, and a team of anesthesiologists and operating room nursing staff. “Being a living donor is a big commitment,” says LVHN’s Living Donor Coordinator Sonja Handwerk, RN. But it comes with a big payoff. Compared with a kidney from a deceased donor, “recipients who receive a living donor kidney have better outcomes,” Moritz says.

The ultimate gift

All three kidney transplant recipients are doing well, which means no more dialysis for Ryan Genery, John Gallo and Alfonso Severino. “I’m feeling 100 percent,” says Severino, a retired truck driver from Allentown. And although it takes two to four weeks for kidney donors to bounce back, James Gallo, Ysabel Severino and Steven Genery are feeling well again. “They say living organ donation is the gift of life, but I didn’t really understand that fully until I saw my brother healthy again,” James Gallo says.

Organ donation

For more information about LVHN’s organ donation program, call 888-402-LVHN (5846).