(WECT) - Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland have pulled off a multi-center, 6-way kidney transplant.
The complex swap involved 9 surgeons and a team of 100 people. They all worked to solve a common problem in the transplant world - people in need of an organ who have a loved one willing to donate, but the two don't match.
Dr. Robert Montgomery of Johns Hopkins Hospital orchestrated the complex swap involving 12 patients at three different hospitals.
"Essentially what we do is mix and match and find an organ from a pool of people who have that problem," said Montgomery. "It's just like a line of dominos. If they don't all tumble, the ones at the end are left standing."
Montgomery found five pairs of people, each consisting of someone in need of a kidney and a relative who wanted to donate, but was incompatible.
Montgomery realigned the pairs to find a match for four of the recipients. An altruistic stranger donated a fifth kidney, and a sixth recipient was picked off the national waiting list.
Doctors timed the operations precisely to make sure that the three kidneys that had to be flown across the country would arrive on time.
Less than a week after the Valentine's Day swap, doctors say all the recipients are healing well, and most of the donors are out of the hospital.
Dr. Montgomery believes that if more of these multi-patient procedures are done, it could lead to an additional 1,500 transplants every year.