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Record setting kidney exchange at Yale-New Haven Hospital

NEW HAVEN -- Nine people desperate for new kidneys are okay with the fact that their intended donors turned out not to be a great match.

At Yale-New Haven Hospital, in June, 18 patients, nine donors and nine recipients, took part in this largest kidney chain ever carried out in Connecticut.

"I have saved her life," said kidney donor Laura Bowes, of Lyme, as she looked at Janet Labati, the recipient.

"You have," said an appreciative Labati, who is a three-time kidney recipient.

"We've made a commitment that we are both going to continue to live," added Bowes. "Her with one and me with the other."

Labati, whose husband was a better match for another kidney candidate in the group, was running out of time to receive her third kidney in 30 years.

"I contacted hospice to discuss end-of-life care," she said, standing with her husband Jim, who donated one of his kidneys to someone he didn't know.

All 18 involved came into Yale-New Haven Hospital thinking they were partnering with someone they knew. But, they weren't the best matches. So, doctors executed a paired kidney exchange.

"So, in a simple situation, you can swap one kidney from team A to team B and one kidney from team B to team A," said Dr. Peter Yoo, Director of Yale's Paired Kidney Transplant Program.

One of the recipients, Mic Murphy, couldn't be more thrilled. Having made his living in the music industry, including singing the 1987 pop hit "Don't Disturb This Groove,"  can now get back to business after nine years on dialysis.

His groove is undisturbed now thanks to a new kidney, courtesy of Cory Murphy. But, they're not related, despite having family that lives near one another in North Carolina.

"I'm still asking relatives do we have a cousin named Mike or you know a distant relative somewhere," said Cory Murphy.

Doctors say each of the kidney recipients should remain strong for decades to come.