Paired Kidney Donation Chain Patients Meet for the 1st Time at Henry Ford Hospital

December 27, 2017


DETROIT – Kidney donors and recipients met today for the first time after an eight-patient paired kidney donation chain that began at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The patients and donors stretch from Detroit to Kalamazoo to Iron Mountain, Michigan; Bemidji, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington. Five of the seven patients met today at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a notable start to the Henry Ford Transplant Institute’s 50th Anniversary year in 2018.

The patients’ doctor, Henry Ford Hospital Nephrologist Anita Patel, M.D., pointed out that just under 3,000 patients are waiting for kidneys in Michigan today.

“You’ll see from the folks here today that a donor can come from a friend, a coworker, a fellow churchgoer – potentially anyone in a circle of family, friends – or even a stranger,” Dr. Patel said. “What makes this one unique is matching patients within Henry Ford – and through national listing systems.”

The person who began this particular kidney chain, is Shannon Brink, 31, of Macomb Township, a suburb of Detroit.

Shannon found out she had an auto-immune disease as a toddler, which eventually caused her kidneys to fail. When word went out through her family and friends, two friends of her husband came forward to donate, Kara Dandar, 33, of Bemidji, Minnesota, and Sarah-Rae Andrewski, 31, of Iron Mountain, Michigan.

Kara was a match. Sarah-Rae was not. But both were willing to give.

The second recipient is Emily King, 39, of Kalamazoo – a rabid Bon Jovi fan. Emily, who has diabetes, has been on dialysis for a year when a co-worker of her mother – a man she had never met before – offered to give her a kidney, Todd Ramsdell 40, of Kalamazoo. This is called altruistic donation, and doctors call these people who donate not knowing the recipient – angels on earth. But, unfortunately, Todd and Emily were not a match.

But thanks to the magic of paired donation, Shannon, Emily and a woman in Seattle, received a paired kidney transplant. 

While Kara matched her friend Shannon, she also matched Emily. On September 27th, Kara donated a kidney to Emily.

“I feel absolutely no deficit,” Kara said. “I get dehydrated and I have to drink a little more water, but other than that, I don’t feel any different.”

“I feel totally different,” Emily added, drawing laughs from the group. Prior to her transplant, she said she was having trouble showering or going up stairs without feeling exhausted.

And while Todd didn’t match Emily, he was a match for Shannon, and donated his kidney to Shannon on September 27.

“We all feel fine,” Todd said as he met Shannon for the first time.

And despite Sarah-Rae not matching Shannon, she was a match for a 55-woman who had been waiting a long time for a kidney in Seattle. That organ donation and transplant took place in June, with the kidney being removed at Henry Ford Hospital and flown to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. While she’s doing great, Lori wasn’t able to participate in today’s meeting. But she and Sarah are in touch. Sarah-Rae said Lori shared with her that a volunteer donor for her in Seattle actually donated a kidney to another person on December 20.

So together, four patients received kidneys from living donors through the magic of paired donation. This also allows four kidneys from deceased donors to be used for other patients.

For more information on living donor kidney donation, visit

Tammy Battaglia
248-881-0809 cell/text