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Rhode Island Hospital transplant surgeon says 'the wait for a kidney has gotten longer'

A Rhode Island Hospital transplant surgeon says "the wait for a kidney has gotten longer." (WJAR)
A Rhode Island Hospital transplant surgeon says "the wait for a kidney has gotten longer." (WJAR)
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The great need for living kidney donors and how, for one local man, that led to a lifesaving chain reaction.

"I got rebooted. I started life all over again," said Daniel Garcia, whose rebirth was back on April 26, when he got a new kidney.

His wife, Milka, wanted to be his donor.

"She decided she wanted to save me," said Daniel.

Unfortunately, she wasn't a match.

Meantime, Elizabeth Tindal, who had been a surgical resident with the transplant team at Rhode Island Hospital decided she wanted to donate a kidney.

"We had two non-direct donors that happened during that time and that's what I think planted the seed," said Tindal, who now works in a research lab.

So, she signed up to become a non-direct living kidney donor.

"The wait for a kidney has gotten longer. It's now about five to seven years in this region," said Dr. Adena Osband, a transplant surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital.

Becoming a living donor speeds up that process.

And as Elizabeth was signing up, so was Milka, hoping to help someone else.

"She was kind of like the bridge for the whole process," said Daniel.

And that brings us to Nicholas Bianchi. His journey began about five years ago after testing revealed he had kidney disease.

"And one of the doctors came in and said you're going to need a kidney transplant," recalled Bianchi.

Bianchi and Nicole Souza had been through this before. Their daughter, Brooke, now 14, needed a kidney, which she got at 18 months.

Mom, her donor.

"I knew right away that I wanted to be the one to do it because I was her mom," said Souza.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when all the dots started to connect -- Milka was a match for Bianchi.

Tindal was a match for Daniel. And on April 26, all four were in surgery: two to donate kidneys and two to receive them.

"The living donor process now is very different than it used to be," said Osband who explained it's done laparoscopically --small incisions. Donors are out of the hospital within a few days.

Tindal is already back to work.

"This is something that I'll be able to kind of hold on to as a doctor when I'm relating to my patients," said Tindal.

"When you stop and think about what people will do for other people, it's really incredible," said Osband.

Which brings us back to the real need for donors.

"You're saving someone's life, someone's family," said Souza.

"You that's listening to me right now and you've had that sense of giving, go for it, you're going to bless so much people," said Daniel.

And just so you know, there's no upper age limit for living kidney donors, as long as you're healthy and you're a match.

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