A husband and wife from San Diego became the first couple in the United States to donate both their kidneys to strangers through exchanges on the National Kidney Donation Registry.
“It’s easier than giving blood,” Alexis Wesley, 31, said. “I pass out … They pulled it out of my Caesarian section scar, and we joked that was the smallest thing they ever pulled out of there because my daughter was a big baby.”
Doctors said the couple’s selfless act has saved at least 10 lives. Charles, Alexis’ husband, donated his kidney last year.
“It’s just exciting to see anybody else donating, but particularly your wife,” he said.
The high school sweethearts said they wanted to give back because they know what it’s like to be the receiving end of charitable donations that helped pay for their children’s medical needs.
Their 6-year-old daughter, Laelie, was born with Hall’s contractures – a rare joint and muscle disorder. Laelie has had six surgical procedures performed on her. Their 2-year-old son, Roland, also has the condition and goes through the same challenges as his sister.
The National Kidney Registry, a nonprofit based in Babylon, N.Y., matches recipients to donors around the country, which creates chains of successful donation exchanges. With Alexis, her kidney was overnighted to a patient in New York whose previously appointed donor did not match. As a result, that donor gave a kidney to another recipient, in Maryland, who then gave a kidney to a recipient in Los Angeles.
“A lot of people who need a kidney and have loved ones in their circle who are willing to donate don’t realize they have other options for an exchange,” Joe Sinacore, director of research and education at the registry, tells Yahoo Shine. “They say, ‘OK, I can’t donate,’ and move on, but they may have already agonized over the decision for hours or even weeks. This is a way to still help.”