Section: Saint Barnabas Medical Center News

First Meeting of Donors and Recipients for 20 Paired Kidney Donations


Pictured at the event are, from left, Stephen P. Zieniewicz, FACHE, President and CEO; Tamara Lomax, altruistic donor; Leon Richards, kidney recipient; and Shamkant Mulgaonkar, MD, Chief, Renal and Pancreas Transplant Department.

Recently, the auditorium at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) was full of hugs and thank-yous as living kidney donors and recipients from 20 recent kidney paired exchanges had the chance to meet for the first time. The event, held by the Renal and Pancreas Transplant Department’s Living Donor Institute, also celebrated the Kidney Paired Donation Program at SBMC, which in the last decade has included more than 180 kidney transplant chains.

Through the Kidney Paired Donation Program, patients who have a willing but incompatible donor are given the option of joining an exchange registry to be matched with donor/recipient pairs in the same situation. A relatively new innovate Compatible Share Program allows patients who DO match, the opportunity participate in an exchange because it provides a chance to improve the recipient’s long-term outcome through matching with a younger donor kidney or one with improved compatibility. The evening celebrated several pairs who unlocked chains so that others waiting could receive a transplant through compatible share.

In attendance were newlyweds Rodney Williams and Laurie Croom. When the couple did not initially match, they entered the Kidney Paired Donation Program where they were paired with a Compatible Share couple, Paul and Kathleen Pruss. William, who had been on dialysis for a year prior to his surgery, said that it was a pleasure to meet his donor, Kathleen. “Her willingness to donate a kidney shows how people care enough about others to help them. Rodney and Laurie shared how their wedding day was extra special because the Kidney the Pancreas Transplant Department allowed her to save his life by giving him the gift of life, a kidney. “What Saint Barnabas is doing, is saving lives,” Rodney added.

In addition, several altruistic donors were also recognized for the selfless act of giving a kidney to someone whom they did not know. Tamara Lomax’s personal journey to becoming an altruistic donor was inspired by her own experiences with congenital blindness and desire to help other. “I often ask myself, in what way can I help that is the most impactful,” she explained at the event. Her donation sparked a five pair kidney paired donation.

More than 200 professionals from SBMC work to meticulously orchestrate these transplant chains from the pre-transplant staff to the operating room, to post-transplant and everything in between. This evening was a testament to the transformative power of kidney donation to the life of an individual and their family.

The Renal and Pancreas Transplant Department at SBMC is one of the largest programs in the United States, transplanting more than 300 people each year of which half are through living donor transplant. There are over 100,000 patients with kidney disease on the national waiting list with a current waiting time of five to seven years. Each day, many people die in this country unable to obtain an organ. SBMC has close to 1,700 people on our list that are waiting for a deceased donor kidney. Living donor transplants, on average, last about twice as long as deceased donor transplants, thus transplantation with a living donor kidney is considered the best treatment option for those with end stage renal disease.

For more information about the Renal and Pancreas Transplant Program at SBMC, please call 973-322-5938 or visit