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Neighbor found to be perfect match for kidney transplant


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MURRAY -- What defines a good neighbor? For two women, who live a block from each other in Cedar Hills, it was one giving the other her kidney a perfect match.

You would never know Julie Reeve and Shelly Rose had major surgery last week.

"Pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, paracarditis; my body has just basically shut down," Shelly said.

On Jan. 26, they entered Intermountain Medical Center -- one an organ transplant recipient, the other the donor.

The women have been friends and neighbors for 10 years. Julie had diabetes and cancer. Chemotherapy caused her kidneys to lose function. Shelly offered one of hers, and she was a perfect match.

"There were two feelings: One, really? That's great!," Shelly said. The other one, she said, was an apprehensive "really?" But that only lasted for a minute.

Besides their wonderful friendship, there is also Shelly's interesting anatomy. They fondly refer to it as the "Medusa Kidney."

The multiple blood vessels going to both kidneys, which is unusual, reminded them of the woman from Greek mythology with snakes instead of hair. But what's even more remarkable is that Shelly's left kidney is twice as large as her right.

"We ended up using her right kidney for donation, and she still has her left kidney," Dr. Willem van der Werf explained. "So, she still has very good kidney function."

"I don't know if her kidney problems benefitted, or this whole journey benefitted her or me more," Shelley said.

"It renews your faith in the human spirit. It really does," said Dr. Diane Alonso, "and allows you to believe in the goodness of human kind over and over again."

Wednesday, a routine check-up reunited doctors and patients. The outcome is even better than expected.

The doctors say Utah has the highest percentage of organ donors in the country, but there is still a great need for living donors. If you would like more information, CLICK HERE.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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