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'It just seemed like the right thing to do:' Boise man’s kidney donation sparks transplant chain

Eleven people total received a new kidney after 66-year-old Dan Morrow decided to donate to someone he never met.

BOISE, Idaho — There are almost 95,000 people waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant in the U.S., according to Yes Idaho.

Family members of patients are usually the first to offer their kidneys, but their organs are not always a good match.

Some patients can wait years before they receive a kidney, and sometimes lose their lives in the process. But when Dan Morrow of Boise donated his kidney to someone he had never met, it sparked a transplant chain that provided eleven people with healthy kidneys.

“When I heard that it was possible to do something like this, and since I was in good health, it just seemed like the right thing to do,” said Morrow. “It wasn’t any more difficult than that.”

Credit: Courtesy of Dan Morrow
Dan Morrow gave his kidney to a total stranger, sparking an 11-person donation chain.

Morrow said operation seemed quick from his perspective since he was asleep.

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It took less than ten hours for his kidney to reach its recipient.

“By 10 p.m. the recipient had the kidney and the transplant was completed,” Morrow added.

Morrow’s donation sparked an 11-person transplant chain.

“In my case, I didn’t designate anyone. I was an altruistic, non-directed donor,” Morrow said. “It gave them a wildcard in their algorithm that matched across the country with potential recipients.”

Dr. Donald Morris at Intermountain Transplant Services in Utah, where Morrow’s surgery was conducted, explained how a transplant chain works.

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“Let’s say your donor is not compatible with you, but your donor is compatible with someone in Texas,” Morris said. “That person’s donor kidney would go to New York to someone who matches, then that person’s donor in New York would go to Florida, then that person’s donor in Florida would go to Tennessee, then the patient’s donor that didn’t match in Tennessee comes back to you in Utah.”

Credit: Courtesy of Dan Morrow
Dan Morrow gave his kidney to a total stranger, sparking an 11-person donation chain.

Morrow said he encourages everyone to look into donating one of their kidneys.

“If you’re healthy, there’s probably not a greater gift that you could give somebody,” Morrow said.

For more information on organ, eye, and tissue donation or to register as a donor, visit Yes Idaho’s website.