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Johns Hopkins Health - Chain Reaction

Spring 2015
Issue No. 28

Chain Reaction

Date: April 2, 2015

When Johns Hopkins surgeons put Mary Tompkins on a paired donor chain, she got back to her full—and healthy—life.


For years, Mary Tompkins’ kidney disease meant she had to experience life’s special everyday moments from the sidelines. “I could go to work, but that was just about all I had the energy to do,” says Tompkins, a pharmacist in Alexandria, La.

In 2011, when told she’d have to wait six years for a kidney, Tompkins says, “I begged for more options. And that’s when I was led to Dr. Montgomery at Johns Hopkins.”

That Dr. Montgomery is transplant surgeon Robert Montgomery, M.D., an expert in the field of complex live donor kidney transplantation. “Mary was somewhat unique because she had a willing donor,” he says. “Even though her donor wasn’t a match, we were able to place her in the living donor chain.”

Here’s how it works: The kidney of Tompkins’ willing donor, a co-worker, was given to a patient who was a match, and the kidney of an altruistic donor went to Tompkins. “The paired donation allows those donors to fulfill their desire to give a kidney and to ensure their loved one receives a kidney,” says Montgomery.

“I was so full of energy when I got back from my transplant, I woke up at 3 in the morning and cleaned my kitchen cabinets,” says Tompkins. Even better, since her surgery in 2012, she’s been able to play with her grandchildren. She’s even made room at family events for both of her donors—“because they’re family to me. Life is absolutely wonderful. I’m blessed.”

 Watch Mary's inspiring journey, in her own words, below:


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