Federal law prohibits getting anything in return for organ donation. It's a law that was designed to prevent the sale of organs but, unfortunately, that has inadvertently prevented a lot of life-saving donor swaps -- until now.
Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, doctors announced a massive kidney swap last week that involved ten surgeries for ten hours each working on ten patients from Maine to California.
"What can you say about somebody who's just changed your life and saved your life?"Said Sheila Thornton, a transplant recipient.
"When you watch someone on dialysis and you see they can't even go for ice cream with their grandchild, you realize what a difference their life has taken," said Sandra Loevner, a kidney donor.
Doctors believe almost half of all patients waiting for kidney transplants 30,000 people will die waiting or become too sick for surgery. Some of those patients have willing donors, but the donors are incompatible and federal law prevents patients from trading donors, even if it could save their lives. Legislation to fine tune that law and hopefully help more people was up for consideration by congress this year, but it was buried by other issues leading up to the election.