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SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A local family said they have a lot to be thankful for this year after a family member received a lifesaving kidney transplant, but this transplant actually saved more than just one life.
Amanda DuQuette-Roberts was sick, she found out in her early twenties that her kidney was failing.
"I was told by my doctor that I would need a kidney transplant in 20 years, and she was dead on," she said.
In 2021, her kidney went into stage 4 failure, she needed a kidney transplant.
Right now, there are 100,000 people across the country also waiting for an organ. About 90,000 of those need a kidney. In Utah alone, 500 people are waiting for a kidney transplant.
"Depending on your blood type, the wait could be [from] two to seven years or even longer," said Dr. Donald Morris, nephrologist at Intermountain Healthcare.
But Amanda couldn't wait that long, her sister-in-law wanted to help but wasn't a match.
Until they found out about the paired exchange program.
"Through the National Kidney Registry, we are able to get donors for recipients who would otherwise be waiting for a really long time," said Wendy Stapley, Donor Coordinator at Intermountain Healthcare.
It allowed Joan to donate her kidney to someone else, to put Amanda on a living kidney transplant list to find her perfect match.
"If someone you love is dying and you can do something about it, you do it, it's very black and white for me," Joan said.
The program has a ripple effect, in Joan and Amanda's case, there were 12 hospitals involved.
Six donors, six different recipients, spanning from coast to coast.
"Living kidney donation is really a way that healthy people can help to be part of the solution to the problem," said Dr. Morris.
Now, weeks after the transplant, Amanda and Joan are overwhelmed by gratitude.
"Truly life changing, I feel like a whole new person," Amanda said. "I don't think there are words to say the gratitude I am feeling, I've said thank you a million times but how is that ever enough."
"It made much more of an impact then I ever thought it could be it - for Amanda, my family, my kids, the other families," said Joan.
The National Kidney Registry is increasing the number of kidney transplants through living donors. They have helped facilitate over 6,000 transplants.
The Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center is the only organ transplant center in Utah to be a part of this national registry.
To sign up to become an organ donor go to: www.IntermountainHealthcare.org/DonateLife .