Last year, Julie Stitt offered to donate a kidney to her husband, Chuck, who was in kidney failure.

Julie wasn't a match for Chuck but they entered the Paired Kidney Exchange (PKE) program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, which would move Chuck higher up on the transplant list and enable him to get a kidney from a matching living donor; in return, Julie would donate her kidney to a stranger that she matched.

Chuck got his kidney transplant courtesy of an unknown donor in December of 2012. Julie, had just started a new job as a 2nd grade teacher so asked to wait until the summer break in 2013 to have her kidney donation surgery for a stranger.

Then Julie's father had kidney failure and he was put on dialysis. Julie asked if she could donate to her dad since her husband had already received a kidney from another donor. She was told that she must honor her obligation as a living donor within the Paired Kidney Exchange program, and some patient out there on a list was waiting to receive a kidney from her.

On June 15th, 2013, Julie donated her kidney. That same day, her dad, Richard Kern, got a phone call. "Mr. Kern, we believe we have a living donor for you. Please come to the hospital for your transplant now."

The nurses and doctors had run the UNOS transplant wait list per PKE protocol - and in a startling stroke of good fortune her father was the next patient on the wait list who was in need of a kidney with her rare blood type: AB.  

Dr. Stephen Bartlett, professor and chair of the department of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine , said, "It's quite a coincidence" when commenting on the chances of one donor saving the lives of her two favorite men completely by chance.

Julie and her family were ecstatic, and she is a real hero. By entering the Paired Kidney Exchange program, she was able to get her husband transplanted sooner and from a living donor, which data has shown has better long-term outcomes. And she was still able to help her dad.

Source: University of Maryland