3-way swap kidney transplant recipients meet donors

After donating kidneys to each other, three people who were strangers only three weeks ago met in Manhasset today to thank the people who saved

MANHASSET - After donating kidneys to each other, three people who were strangers only three weeks ago met in Manhasset today to thank the people who saved their lives.

Two years ago, Darlene Rawlins, of Baldwin, learned she needed a new kidney. Her daughter offered to donate hers, but turned out not to be a medical match. The same happened to Jacqueline Gonzalez, whose son's kidney was incompatible, and to former Mr. Universe Steve Michalik, who had a friend who wasn't a match either.

Doctors at North Shore LIJ had three people who each needed a kidney, and three people willing to donate one, so they decided to do a three-way swap, performing all six surgeries in one day.

"That person not only restored life to me, but they gave my four children their dad back and gave my two grandchildren a grandfather that could play with them," Michalik says.

It was the first three-way swap transplant performed in Nassau County. There are currently 90,000 people nationwide who are waiting for a kidney.

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