Alaska Man Travels to Buffalo General Hospital to Donate Kidney

Alaska Man Travels to Buffalo General
Hospital to Donate Kidney


Story on WIVB News

September 14, 2006

Dr. Mark Laftavi (L) and the surgical staff at Buffalo General Hospital perform kidney transplantation onJamestown area native Paul Cardinale. Dr. John Griswold performed the nephectomy (removal of the kidney)on Alaskan native William Thomas.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Paul Cardinale has been suffering from kidney disease for more than 12 years.

The Jamestown native received his father’s kidney in 1994 but it failed ten years later. For the next three years, Cardinale and his family worked around the clock to get Paul another kidney.

On Wednesday, their efforts will pay off as Alaska native William Thomas, 34, will be at Buffalo General Hospital to give Cardinale the gift of life. The two met on-line through an increasingly popular website,

The surgery is the first of its kind in Western New York, and possibly all of the New York State.

Thomas, a resource specialist for a human service agency in Kodiak, Alaska, was moved to donate an organ after watching a primetime news special on transplantation. For Cardinale, 35, it is the culmination of years of false starts, doctor’s appointments and on-line communication.

“There is no greater gift that we can give than the gift of life,” said Margaret Paroski, M.D., chief medical officer of Kaleida Health and the chair of the board for Upstate New York Transplant Services. “Kaleida Health is ensuring that no potential donor is denied that opportunity.”

In fact, because of Cardinale, Kaleida Health changed its medical policies for potential kidney donors. Prior to this, internet or media driven transplantation was not allowed. Too many ethical, surgical and logistical issues existed.

Today, the “altruistic” policy allows people like William Thomas the opportunity to save a life. An “altruistic,” “voluntary,”

“non-directed,” “good samaritan,” or “stranger” living donor for kidney transplantation is defined as a person who offers themselves as a potential donor for any person listed for kidney transplantation at the Kaleida Health Multiorgan Transplant Center.

“Due to organ shortage, every year more than 6,700 Americans die while waiting for organ transplantation,” said Mark Laftavi, M.D., chief of surgical transplantation for Kaleida Health. “Our organization is taking the lead to expand living donation by accepting altruistic, voluntary, good samaritan donors. This new policy will help us reach this goal.”

The policy states that no potential donor will be excluded solely because the donor was identified through the media or the internet.

“The purpose of this policy is to clarify and standardize the criteria for the determination of an acceptable living voluntary kidney transplant donor,” said Oleh Pankewycz, M.D., transplant medical director for Kaleida Health.

The Kaleida Multiorgan Transplant Program, located at the Buffalo General Hospital, provides a full range of services for patients in need of kidney and/or pancreas transplantation. They are Western New York’s largest program and have the best quality outcomes.

Dr. Pankewycz said end stage renal disease is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States and the optimal form of medical care for patients with this disease is kidney transplantation, especially living donor kidney transplantation.

He added the new policy establishes the duties and responsibilities of Kaleida Health and the transplant medical staff in evaluating all candidates for living voluntary or altruistic kidney donation whether identified as a result of personal relationships or through the media or internet.

The new policy states that voluntary donors must demonstrate a willingness to donate to any person awaiting transplantation

regardless of recipient medical condition, race, religion, national origin, sex or sexual orientation. Voluntary donors may request that the donation be directed, if possible, to a child.

In addition, voluntary donors must:

  • Be willing to donate without anticipation of monetary, social or celebrity benefits, and must demonstrate that
  • the donation is made freely and without coercion. Federal and state laws strictly prohibit the
  • buying and selling of organs.
  • Demonstrate adequate social support for their decision from family members, spouses, children or other
  • persons that may have a significant role in their lives.
  • Be willing to undergo all medical and psychological pre-transplant evaluation procedures and to abide by the
  • judgment of the medical and psychiatric staff regarding their suitability as a donor.
  • Be free of significant medical, mental illnesses or drug/alcohol abuse that would prevent donation.

The transplant team consists of surgeons, nephrologists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, transplant pharmacists and

financial advisors who evaluate all living donations at the Kaleida Multiorgan Transplant Center. For more information,

interested donors can call 716-859-1345 (toll free, 1-800-648-9629) or visit the web,

Related Kaleida Service: Transplant Center

Contact Information:
Michael P. Hughes
Phone: (716) 859-3795