World-Record Kidney Chain Extends Thanks To Inspired Organ Donors

| January 1, 2018 @ 5:00 am

By Tyler Greer

Tyler Williamson went to TEDx Birmingham’s 2017 event in March expecting to be inspired and to network and make new connections with fellow attendees. What the 27-year-old did not anticipate was that inspiration would lead him to volunteer to become a living kidney donor just seven months later.

However, that is exactly what Williamson did as donor No. 77 in the UAB Kidney Chain, a chain of transplants that began with an altruistic donor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in December 2013. With two transplants taking place Dec. 21, 88 total transplants have been performed at UAB Hospital and Children’s of Alabama as part of the UAB Kidney Chain. It is the longest kidney transplant chain in the world.

Williamson, a Birmingham native, had never met anyone who needed a kidney transplant, and he was not aware that 100,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant in the United States until he attended TEDx Birmingham. That is where he heard Jayme Locke, M.D., director of the UAB Kidney Chain, share an 11-minute message on the effects of kidney disease and how it attacks a person physically and mentally. Williamson also heard how, on average, 20 families see a loved one die each day while they wait for a kidney transplant that never comes.Locke’s TEDx Birmingham message? Change the conversation. Change it from sickness and death to hope and action. Become an advocate for, and help to create, a single, national living kidney donor exchange program — one that would include paired donors and those who want to give, like Williamson, just because they are called to help their fellow man.

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