My Kidney, His Life

My Kidney, His Life

A videojournalist documents his experience of being a donor in an eight-person kidney exchange so his ailing father can receive a transplant. (WP)

Pierre Kattar Sr., 61, had suffered for most of his life from hepatitis B, and his kidneys were weakened by drugs he began taking after a liver transplant in 2001.

Eventually, his kidneys stopped functioning and after a year of an intensive dialysis regimen, a discouraged Kattar wanted to give up. Without a kidney transplant, he didn’t have the will to keep living.

Watching his father suffer, Kattar’s son Pierre Jr. resolved to donate a kidney for him. Although their blood types were not compatible, Pierre Jr. was able to participate in a kidney chain, donating a kidney to a stranger in exchange for another person donating a kidney to his father.

Pierre Kattar, Jr. happens to be a Washington Post videojournalist, and used the occasion to document his participation in the elaborate exchange of four kidneys among eight people. Kattar describes his reasons for helping his father and we see and hear them before, during and after surgery. He is also shown meeting the grateful young man who received his kidney. This is as close to medical procedures and their personal impact – physically and psychologically – as a camera could possibly get.

Kidney chains are a recent phenomenon designed to overcome problems in renal transplantation. The National Kidney Registry keeps lists of altruistic donors and incompatible pairs – donors who are not a proper match with their loved one. In a kidney chain a donor agrees to give a kidney to a stranger so that a relative or loved one can receive a transplant in return.

Be forewarned: Invasive medical procedures are shown in this video.

CHANNEL: Washington Post

Length: 14:11

Video by Pierre Kattar and Alexandra Garcia
Managing Editor: Tom Kennedy
Web Producer: Delece Smith-Barrow


On the KobreGuide: “Chain of Life”

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