Men participate in world's 2nd largest kidney exchange

WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- Froedert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin teamed up to help save the life of 55-year-old Rafael Serrano, as well as other kidney recipients, by participating in the world's second largest kidney chain.

A kidney chain is used when patients needing a kidney don't have a match, but someone is willing to donate on their behalf. In return, they'll receive a kidney from a similar situation.

Doctors say these chains greatly expand the potential pool of living donors and facilitate transplants that couldn't otherwise be done.

"Without that chain, I'd probably be waiting," said Serrano.

Transplant surgeon Dr. Christopher Johnson said Serrano was one of the sickest people in the chain with less than a one percent chance of receiving a kidney.

"He actually listed as 100% incompatible with all donors. It turns out the only way we could actually do the transplant was to find a donor that had a lesser degree of incompatibility," said Dr. Johnson.

Serrano's future son-in-law, Nick Ludy, donated a kidney on his behalf.

"I feel great right now," said Serrano. "I can play with my grandkids. I just hope everything keeps going for a long time."

Ludy said the decision to donate was easy, especially knowing the outcome would help save a life.

Serrano and Ludy's chain consisted of 56 participants, including 28 kidney recipients. The entire process happened in only five weeks.