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Donors, Recipients Meet One Another Following Largest Group Kidney Exchange In U.S.

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- A kidney exchange among couples -- all under one hospital -- helped save lives one group at a time. Husbands and wives who matched with transplant donors and recipients all met each other for the very first time Thursday night.

Kidney donors and their recipients said "thank you" to one another at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey.

Deborah Miele and Carmen Castro were introduced for the first time after exchanging the gift of life.

"Oh, I wouldn't have no life, I wouldn't have no life," Castro told CBS 2's Derricke Dennis in appreciation of the donation.

It was a chain event in which remarkable couples featuring one partner needing a kidney and another who donated one. However, it was not to each other, but to a more compatible stranger in one of the largest group kidney exchanges in the country.

Juan Castro did not hesitate to give his kidney to to Phil Mastroiani.

"Let's get it done, I said, let's do it. My wife needed a kidney so everybody's happy," Castro said. Mastroiani added that it was "like you got a new life again."

After the heartfelt introductions there was a formal program in which donors and their recipients shared their gratitude together on stage.

An emotional Brian Glackin, who was a recipient, thanked his donor for "giving me a second chance at life."

"I'm grateful to all of you," he said.

The stories were those of survival and hours of surgery the week of Valentine's Day. Donors had their kidneys removed then transferred to recipients. The surgeries were followed by weeks of recovery and the exchange program, which required a staff of more than 100 people, was deemed a success.

"The benefit is someone can find a match and find a living donor match. There's a significant advantage to receiving a living donor kidney over having to wait on what's commonly referred to as the waiting list," surgeon Dr. Stuart Geffner said.

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