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Great Grandmother Donates a Kidney

Posted Jan 15 2009 5:51pm
I just received this press release from the good people at regarding a Great Grandmother who donated a kidney to a stranger she met through MatchingDonors. It was MatchingDonors' 91st transplant. I was the 43rd, I think. Anyway, here's the news:


Great Grandmother Donates a kidney to a total stranger she found on the Internet.

Site Endorsed by Various Health Officials, Ethicists and Doctors across the Country

Regina Iwinski saw her brother Joe Plovich’s, of Crown Point, Indiana kidneys shutting down. He needed a kidney transplant badly. She knew that the current government waiting list for a kidney was seven to ten years long. She also knew her brother Joe would not last seven to ten years. So, for months Regina frantically sought out family and friends to be living donors. Then Regina was recommended from her doctor. is the most successful nonprofit organization that is finding living altruistic donors for patients needing transplants.

When Regina put Joe’s profile on she wrote: Our brother Joe needs a kidney transplant because he has polycystic kidney disease. His only chance for a normal life will occur when he receives a new kidney. Unfortunately all of his siblings were disqualified as potential donors. He is weeks away from dialysis and his doctors feel a transplant prior to dialysis would be best for his outcome. Our family and all his friends would be extremely grateful to any individual who can see it within themselves to share the gift of life. Joe's blood type is AB so he can receive a kidney from any blood type. Thank you for reading this and if you cannot help our brother hopefully you can help another in need.

Within a few weeks Regina was contacted by Mary Leger a 66 year old Great Grandmother of 11 children from Joliet, Illinois. Mary put her profile on writing: saying “Hi, my name is Mary "DEE" Trahan Leger. I am 65 years old and in good health. I am willing to donate a liver and/or lung to a needy patient. I am a Christian. I am 5 feet 2 inches tall and weigh 145 lbs. Mary then saw Joe’s profile on and decided she would donate a kidney. Mary wrote to Regina: I have read your brother Joseph's profile. I would like to help but I do not know if I would be a match. I am certain the transplant center would test the donor well before doing and transplant surgeries. Call me with the details of the tests and I try to work around my schedules. If I am a match then we can proceed from there.


Mary TrahanLeger aka Mary T.

Through the miracle of the Internet the two strangers met on and after testing Mary found out she was a match for Joe, and on December 30th Mary saved Joe’s life by donating her kidney to Joe at Northwestern Transplant Center in Chicago.

It will have only been seven months on that it took Regina to find a willing matching donor and get a surgery transplant for her brother…not the seven to ten years it would have been on the government waiting lists.

This was the 91st transplant surgery in little over three years from a patient and altruistic donor that found each other on was launched in January of 2004 as an Internet service based in Massachusetts. Patients on transplant lists put their profiles on the website, and potential donors browse the site for a life they want to help save. Donors are not compensated, since it is against the law to have any financial benefit from organ donation.

Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, one of the Web site founders, said “Patients are asked to pay a membership fee, but there is a sliding scale if they can't afford it.” Many praise as a creative, entrepreneurial response to this deadly disparity, and 100% of the money paid for patient memberships is applied to running the site.

Since the inception of, directed living organ donations have increased to historic numbers. is now the largest living donor database in the country.

“We believe that if more people were better educated on the ability to be a live organ donor, and we add in the personal communication between potential organ donors and patients needing an organ, the number of donors will increase and so will the probability of a patient receiving their much needed organ. We already have over 4,170 potential donors on our site waiting to find patients needing organs”, said Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, Medical Director. “ is the most comprehensive searching system available. Other organizations concentrate mainly on the passive anonymous portion of finding organ donors - leaving little or no communication between patients and potential donors”. has had incredible success in since its inception:

1. is now the largest living donor database in the country.

2. has an extremely high success rate - most patient members that have been on the site for at least 30 days have been offered an organ by a potential donor.

3. At least 40 of our patient members have upcoming surgery dates with their donors found on

4. Immediately after its first surgery in October 2004, had over 2 million visitors on a weekly basis.

5. now has over 383 patients with active profiles and over 5,489 potential donors on the site. New patients and potential donors sign up almost daily.

6. is recommended and used by many doctors across the United States, including some of the most prestigious transplant surgeons and centers.

As of January 7, 2008, there are 100,519 patients waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Yet, in 2006, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit organization contracted with the US Department of Health, there were only 28,930 organ transplants performed in the United States. Every day, 18 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ, such as a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, or lung. This creates a national crisis that has led even President Bush to publicly encourage private organizations to raise awareness of the important need for organ and tissue donors.

Currently, patients waiting for an organ donation are placed on a national waiting list through the United Network for Organ Sharing. A computer system matches patients to donor organs according to objective criteria such as blood and tissue type, immune status, medical urgency and time spent on the waiting list. This ranking system determines which patients are offered available organs. This process is extremely important in anyone’s organ search, but now offers a way to enhance the search with a more active approach. main objective is to search the world to find potential live donors for people in need of organ transplants. Patient members of provide a personal biography as well as pictures of their choice to display on the website, which will create an interest in them and their life story. When patients in need of an organ transplant place themselves into database, their information will be promoted on the website. advertises and promotes its Web site in many different ways through extensive public relations networking to increase potential donor’s viewing the site.

The personal connection provides is key to finding a potential live donor. According to the National Kidney Foundation, "Nearly one out of four (23.4%) of 1000 people queried told pollsters that they would be "likely" to consider donating a kidney or a portion of their liver or lung to help save the life of someone they did not know." Many people feel more comfortable considering offering a live donation to someone they may have a connection to or a common bond.

When patients provide their biography and open up personally, the potential for live donors to respond is increased. To help educate people about the option of live organ donation, Web site provides extensive information regarding the safety and types of donations available. Medical Director, Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, is available for interviews for print, radio and television before and after the surgery. Please contact Doctor Lowney at 781-821-2204 to set up interviews. An NPR radio interview, ABC News NightLine Story, and New England Journal of Medicine Articles about can be found at

Both the patient and donor can be interviewed; their contact information can be obtained by calling at 781-821-2204. Many of our patients and donors are willing to speak with the press. Contact information about our patients and donors may be obtained by calling at 781-821-2204. is not an organ donor waiting list, and is not associated with any organ donor organization. It is a nonprofit venue where patients and potential donors can communicate and hopefully expedite a live donor agreeing to give a much-needed organ. gives patients and potential donors the important communication tools to correspond with each other, but once the contact between the parties has been made, the road to transplant surgery is their own.

Based in Canton, Mass., is a nonprofit corporation with people based throughout the United States. Anyone interested in donating money to support services can do so by calling at 781-821-2204.

More information about the company is available at its corporate Web site,
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