Kidney Donor Couple Makes U.S. History at Sharp Memorial

Charles and Alexis Wesley
Charles and Alexis Wesley

A San Diego couple made U.S. history in October when they became the first husband and wife to both donate their kidneys to strangers through the National Kidney Registry. Their transplants were performed at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

On Oct. 7, Alexis Wesley donated her left kidney to someone in New York. Seventeen months earlier, her husband, Charles, donated his kidney to a stranger in Pennsylvania. Their voluntary donations set off a transplant chain that saved 10 lives.

Sharp Memorial is the only hospital in San Diego that participates in the National Kidney Registry, a nonprofit that connects people who want to donate a kidney with those who have kidney failure.

The Registry requires that kidney recipients have a partner willing to donate an organ, but the chain of donations can only begin with altruistic donors like the Wesleys. Without these “living donors,” people with kidney failure can often wait 5 to 10 years for an organ from a deceased donor — suffering through grueling kidney dialysis in the meantime.

The National Kidney Registry has facilitated more than 850 transplants across the United States since it launched in 2008. As of October 2013, Sharp Memorial has set in motion 8 transplant chains and been a part of 25.

The Wesleys’ two children, a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, both suffer from a rare joint disorder called arthrogryposis. The couple was motivated to donate their kidneys as a way to give back for all the medical support they’ve received for their children.

For More Information
To learn more about organ transplant at Sharp, visit San Diego Transplant Surgery. To learn how to become an organ donor or a live kidney donor, visit How to Become an Organ and Tissue Donor.