Two North Jersey families match up for rare kidney swap

Source: North
A son jumped at the chance to donate a kidney to his father, but they weren’t compatible. A husband wanted to do the same for his wife, but they, too, didn’t match. Luckily for both North Jersey families, strangers to each other, the wife matched with the son, and the father matched with the husband.
A swap carried out one long day in February by a team of doctors at Hackensack University Medical Center, where the families finally got to meet..
Debra Ferman, 62, of Mahwah, cried upon meeting Kenneth A. Furlong Jr., 23, of West New York. “To have your life back is amazing,” Mrs. Ferman said. “To have a young person like this so selflessly donate a kidney is — I can’t even describe. That’s why I was crying.”
The paired kidney exchange, with living donors, was the first of its kind at the hospital. Such exchanges are rare — and even rarer to happen within a single hospital. “It’s almost like a match made in heaven,” said Dr. James Lin, the surgeon who implanted the kidneys.
The senior Kenneth Furlong, 60, was added to the transplant waiting list December 2014, and Debra Ferman in June 2015, Lin said. Though they had family members willing to donate to them, the donors and recipients didn’t match, based on variables such as blood type and whether the body would reject the donated organ. But After a series of tests, doctors found out the Furlongs and the Fermans could be paired.
Carlos Ferman, Debra’s husband, and the senior Furlong chatted about how they kept running into each other at the hospital and how they suspected the other was the donor and recipient because their appointments seemed to coincide.
The four surgeries — two to remove the kidneys, two to implant them — took place in February.
Mr. Ferman said he was motivated by the notion that his wife finally would be being taken off dialysis, and he told Furlong he had taken good care of his kidneys by not drinking.
“I said, I just want that kidney to work for him,” Ferman said.
“It does,” Furlong replied. “I was run down — between dialysis and my kidneys barely functioning, it was a struggle to get through the day.” But now he’s gone from “just living to being alive. I have felt great from Day One. I’ve never had any pain — it’s almost like nothing happened. Except I know that something remarkable happened.”
The families also discovered that Debra Ferman, a West New York native, grew up two blocks from Kenneth V. Furlong and graduated in the same high school in the same class as Furlong’s wife. The Fermans also lived three blocks from where the Furlongs live now.
“After all this scrambling, trying to find a kidney, they lived three blocks from us,” Furlong said.

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