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'Her Kidney Is Crushing It:' UCLA Doctor Touts Kidney Re-Gifting Program That's Saving Lives

WESTWOOD (CBSLA) — Kidney donors give the gift of life. And now many are giving that gift twice as part of an innovative program that "re-gifts" the organs.

Vertis Boyce's kidneys failed a decade ago, when she was 60. She had been on dialysis ever since and was among the 95,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list.

"I had given up hope. I had accepted the dilemma I was in," she said. "I felt that I would not a get a kidney."

UCLA surgeon Jeffrey Veale says many don't survive.

"Fifty to 60 percent of people on dialysis die after 5 years on dialysis," he said.

But last July, Vertis, who lives in Las Vegas, got a call from Dr. Veale.

"He was telling me there was a possibility I could get this transplant. But he says there was a backstory," she said. The donated kidney that was a match came from a man who had received a kidney transplant himself from a 17 year old girl.

"I'm thinking, oh you can do that?" Boyce remembered.

The answer is yes. Dr. Veale has performed three successful re-transplant, or "re-gifted," kidney surgeries UCLA Medical Center in the last year. Vertis had her surgery the day after the phone call. Dr. Veale says her kidney is healthy and performing at the same level as someone with two kidneys.

"Her kidney is crushing it," he said.

Dr. Veale says only about 50 people around the world have received a re-gifted kidney.

"You know how we hate re-gifts — presents — but this is the best re-gift you could ever receive," Boyce said. She also received the gift of knowing she now has a better chance to see her granddaughter grow up.

"A second chance at life — it's just amazing," she said.

Vertis will be back at UCLA July 12th — the one-year anniversary of the day she received her new kidney. She says that date will become her new birthday

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