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5 people in kidney transplant chain meet for first time since operations

Posted at 4:43 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 11:47:39-05

Donating an organ to a total stranger. That's what three people did to help people waiting for a kidney transplant.

The surgeries took place in September and Wednesday five of the people involved had an emotional meeting at Henry Ford Hospital.

Recipient Shannon Brink called it a "tangled web of kidneys going who knows where."

It started with Shannon, who was told four years ago she needed a kidney transplant.

"I've had people test for me before that were family or really good friends and they just didn't work out."

That's when Sarah-Rae Andrewski came in. She was friends with Shannon's husband and offered her kidney.

Sarah said, "There was no thinking about it, there was no hesitation. I just called her that day and said, 'how do I do it?'"

Sarah wasn't a match, but she decided to still offer up her kidney to someone else in hopes of being part of a match program.

Then Kara Dandar, another acquaintance to Shannon, came in. Turns out, she's a match to Shannon but doctors told Kara there was someone else she also matched with.

Emily King needed a kidney and her mother's co-worker Todd Ramsdell offered to donate his but wasn't a match for Emily.

"It was a bit of a waiting game," said Emily.

Todd was a match to Shannon. And since Kara was a match for Emily, Shannon said, "Why not save two lives instead of just mine."

Shannon got Todd's kidney. Kara gave her kidney to Emily. Sarah's kidney went to a woman in Seattle.

The five and their family members gathered for the first time since the surgery in September. They exchanged hugs and thank you's.

Todd said, "If you're healthy enough to donate, look into it, consider it."