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CNB Team Member Donates Kidney

Kathy Rayborn, an RBGA in CNB’s South Region, recently had an opportunity to give someone a second chance at life by becoming a kidney donor. Jeff Hughes of Hattiesburg and Dakota White of Mize, both in need of life-saving kidney transplants, faced a challenge when initially identified donors were found to be incompatible. Fortunately, a unique solution emerged: the family members who initially volunteered to donate, though incompatible with their intended recipients, turned out to be perfect matches for the opposite patients. This internal kidney transplant swap was a historic first for the University of Mississippi Medical Center and provided new hope for both Hughes and White. Shortly after Dr. Sabahat Afshan, a pediatric nephrologist, joined UMMC, she began taking care of 16-year-old White. Although Afshan had previously recommended White for a kidney transplant, an evaluation revealed that she needed the COVID-19 vaccine before surgery. While awaiting the second vaccine dose, White unexpectedly progressed toward kidney failure, prompting dialysis initiation while Afshan continued the evaluation. Dakota White of Mize was part of UMMC's first-ever internal candidate kidney swap. “Her mom wanted to donate a kidney, but we found that she wasn’t a perfect match,” said Afshan. “We were talking about options; her mom really wanted her to have a living donor donation. It wasn’t long after that, we heard about the possibility of an internal candidate swap. The internal swap was great news because it’s easier than having an external swap because those could take hours to have the kidney.” In this remarkable turn of events, White spent less than 24 hours on the recipient list before her mom, Amanda Creel, received a call confirming they had found a suitable match. “I think it’s important to realize the complexity of pulling something like this off,” Dr. Mark Earl, chief of transplant surgery, said. “A lot of times we have people who want to donate, but the kidneys don’t match. Jeff Hughes had also been dealing with kidney failure for several years, but after contracting COVID-19 in 2022, his situation escalated.  He knew things could be getting worse when he became increasingly lethargic. Hughes booked an appointment with his primary care physician, in search of a solution. “I told him I was feeling completely drained,” Hughes said. “I was white as a ghost. The doctor told me to drive to the hospital immediately. But I went home to pick up my wife.’ When Tina and I got to the hospital, I told them about my hemoglobin level (protein in in red blood cells that carry oxygen) and everyone started rushing around, shouting; apparently it was very serious. They did a transfusion, which gave me some antibodies that made my donor match a little more complex.” Hughes was put on the donor list at UMMC and his sister-in-law, Kathy Rayborn, immediately volunteered to donate to him. She underwent evaluation but was determined an incompatible match. Hughes was soon going to be added to the national transplant registry, but a miracle happened just in time. "Low and behold, someone right here in Mize, Mississippi matched me and Kathy matched her daughter,” Hughes said. Rayborn, who was disheartened by being unable to help her brother-in-law, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to give a life-saving gift and emphasized the joy of helping others in need. It meant a lot to us that we were helping such a young girl,” Rayborn said. “Of course, I would do anything for Jeff; but when you get the opportunity to help other people, it’s truly a blessing.” Kidney recipient Jeff Hughes, center, is well on the way to recovery, supported by his wife Tina Hughes, right, and sister-in-law Kathy Rayborn, left. The content of this article was provided by the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  

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