Anonymous Kidney Donations Create Huge, Rare Donation Chain That Connects Them All in Remarkable Way

Six donors had no idea where their kidneys were going, but the recipients created a 12-person chain that miraculously connected all of them through their personal relationships

A group of friends, family members and a Good Samaritan were part of a giant, 12-person kidney donation chain at Northwestern Memorial Hospital that brings them together Wednesday to meet in Chicago for the first time.

The rare donation chain was a result of six people donating kidneys to six recipients (see chart below). The donors did not know who their kidneys were going to, but the transplants miraculously wove a web connecting all 12 people, according to Northwestern Medicine.

The result? "Kidney transplant surgeries in a rare organ-transplant chain from living donors that resulted in healthy kidneys going to six sick people," the hospital said in a statement.

It all started with Brendan Flaherty, 21, who was diagnosed in 1998 with the kidney-affecting Denys-Drash Syndrome. Flaherty received a transplant from Kimberly Cooper, 44, who was a non-directed donor and the Good Samaritan in the chain.

Although the laughing still hurts a bit from surgery done just days ago, it doesn't stop the jokes from coming.

"That kidney has been all over the world and I want you to take care of it," said Cooper to Flaherty. "It's eaten so many good foods."

Flaherty’s close friend, Philip Cameli, 19, had tried to donate to Flaherty but was not a match. Still, Cameli’s kidney went to a stranger, Clotilde Ruiz, 59. Ruiz’s niece, Daisy Ruiz, 33, had tried donating to her aunt but was not a match.

Daisy Ruiz matched with Scott Rial, 44. Rial’s friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated his kidney, which went to 49-year-old Sherri Dickson.

Dickson’s friend, Tiffany Binkley, 35, donated her kidney, which went to Erin Tracy, 31.

Ending the chain, Tracy’s second cousin, Kimberly Kostro, 49, donated her kidney, which went to 65-year-old Steven Zachar, who had been on the waiting list since 2010.

All of the donors and recipients are doing well following their surgeries, the press release said.

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