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Maryland Woman Donates Kidney to Husband

December 9, 1989

BELTSVILLE, Md. (AP) _ When Kenneth Warner left the hospital last week, he wore a red sweatshirt that proudly said, ″My wife gave me her heart and all her love. Now she gave me a kidney.″

Warner and his wife of 22 years, Roseanne ″Timmie″ Warner underwent a rare spouse-to-spouse transplant.

Roseanne Warner, 46, gave one of her kidneys to her 47-year-old husband after becoming impatient with a shortage of available cadaver organs for transplant. The Nov. 29 operation was made possible by a rare match in the tissues of an unrelated living donor and recipient, doctors said.

The couple is recovering well at their home in this Washington suburb, physicians said. Two of their children, Kathleen, 12, and Ken Jr., 15, are documenting their progress on home videos.

″Our big concern was that the kidney would function properly,″ Kenneth Warner said.

With anti-rejection drugs increasing the chance of survival for people receiving kidneys from donors who are not blood relatives, many doctors view spousal transplants as a way to shorten the wait for transplants.

As of Monday, there were 280 people in the Washington area on the waiting list for kidney transplants, according to the Washington Regional Transplant Consortium.

Most transplant organs come from cadavers. But fewer are available because of better care for people who a few years ago would have died from their injuries, said Jimmy Light, chairman of transplantation at the Washington Hospital Center, where the Warners had their surgery.

Of those who do die and are medically suitable for organ harvesting, only about 50 percent of their families give consent, compared with 83 percent two years ago.

Kenneth Warner had those statistics to consider after both his kidneys failed in May. Warner, a maintenance supervisor for the National Security Agency, was given kidney dialysis treatments three times a week, but didn’t want to stay on dialysis for the rest of his life.

He decided he wanted a transplant kidney, and set Christmas as his personal deadline.

The couple’s oldest daughter, Kelly Ann, a 19-year-old college student, volunteered her kidney. But Roseanne Warner recalled discussing a spousal organ transplant with a doctor.

The Warners ″woke up on a Saturday morning and I said ’Why can’t I give you a kidney?‴ the secretary said.

In a series of sophisticated tissue-typing tests to determine the kind of match Roseanne Warner’s kidney would make with her husband’s body, doctors determined that of the six tissue types, the couple matched on three.

The chances of that happening between husband and wife are about one in 2,000, Light said.

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