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Bride-to-Be Receives Kidney Donated by Fiancee During North Shore-University Hospital's First Transplant Surgery

MANHASSET, N.Y., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a case that highlights both the "gift of life" and the "gift of love," surgeons at North Shore University Hospital announced today they successfully performed the hospital's first kidney transplant surgery on a Queens woman whose fiancee donated his kidney to his future bride.

North Shore University Hospital's transplant program is the first in Nassau and Queens counties, a population area of 3.5 million that had been without access to a nearby transplant center despite the fact that about 70 percent of kidney transplants performed in the New York metropolitan area involved residents from Nassau and Queens, according to the latest statistics.

The hospital's first transplant recipient, Jarena Bates, 23, of St. Albans, was diagnosed with kidney disease eight years ago. In May 2007, soon after she was engaged to be married, she ended up in the Emergency Department at LIJ Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, where she was told she was going into kidney failure.

Understandably, Ms. Bates' emotional roller coaster -- from planning her July 2008 wedding to fighting for her life -- was difficult to take. A search began to find a matching donor for the African-American woman -- no easy task considering that out of the 5,043 people in the New York metropolitan areas waiting for kidneys, 3,582 or 71 percent are people of color. The average wait time for a matching donor is seven years. For people of color, the average wait time is nine years. In short, Ms. Bates needed a miracle.

And then the unexpected happened -- love intervened. Ms. Bates' fiancee, 31-year old Tyehesian (Tye) Johnson, also of St. Albans, asked to be tested to see if he was a suitable match for Ms. Bates -- miraculously, he was. Not only would Ms. Bates end up taking her fiancee's name, but his kidney -- a true gift of love as well as life. "Most people are nowhere as lucky as myself," said Ms. Bates. "Never would I have thought that Tye would have been a match --particularly since he's not blood-related "

The transplant surgery was performed on Monday, Oct. 15, by Ernesto Molmenti, MD, MBA, PhD., director of transplantation at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). In an adjoining operating room at the hospital, Louis Kavoussi, MD, the North Shore-LIJ Health System's chairman of urology, removed Mr. Johnson's kidney through a minimally invasive surgery known as a laparoscopic nephrectomy. Dr. Kavoussi was the first surgeon in the country to perform a laparoscopic donor nephrectomy when he was at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, in 1995.

The North Shore-LIJ Health System received state and federal approvals to establish a transplant program at NSUH, after demonstrating the tremendous need that existed in Nassau and Queens. In 2006, the latest year for which statistics were available, 873 residents of Queens and 317 residents of Nassau County were on waiting lists for kidneys, according to the New York Organ Donor Network. Of those on the waiting list, 39 Queens residents and 13 Nassau County residents died in 2006 without ever receiving one.

In another reflection of the need for a local transplant program, 209 of the 291 transplants performed in the New York metropolitan area in 2005 involved residents of Queens and Nassau counties, according to state statistics. Until now, residents of those counties have had to travel to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester or eastern Suffolk County to find a hospital with a transplant program.

During the first year of operation at NSUH's new transplant program, the hospital expects to perform about 15 transplants, a number that Dr. Molmenti expects to increase to about 100 annually after the third year of operation.

"This is truly a major milestone in the history of the North Shore-LIJ Health System," Michael J. Dowling, the health system's president and chief executive officer, said of the first transplant. "What makes this occasion even more gratifying is that our first recipient and donor are engaged to be married, making this a celebration of both the `gift of life' and the `gift of love.'"

About North Shore-LIJ Health System

The nation's third largest, non-profit, secular healthcare system, the North Shore-LIJ Health System cares for people of all ages throughout Long Island, Queens and Staten Island - a service area encompassing more than five million people. Including its clinical affiliates, the health system consists of 16 hospitals, 13 long-term care facilities, a medical research institute, four trauma centers, five home health agencies and dozens of outpatient centers. The members and affiliates of North Shore-LIJ house more than 8,800 beds, and are staffed by over 8,000 physicians, about 11,000 nurses and a total workforce of more than 37,500 -- the largest employer on Long Island and the ninth largest in New York City.

SOURCE North Shore-LIJ Health System
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