Eight patients and Jeffrey Veale, MD, director of the UCLA Kidney Exchange Program, participated in the 2017 Rose Parade on Monday, January 2, 2017 with the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. The patients were part of one of the first three-way living-donor kidney transplant chains performed in the western United States.
“This year’s theme, ‘Teammates in Life,’ shares the incredibly powerful message that when we choose to take care of one another through life’s journey, to pay it forward and to honor those who have helped us on this journey, we, our families, our communities, and the world are richer,” said Tom Mone, chairman of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float Committee and CEO of OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ, eye and tissue recovery organization serving the greater Los Angeles area. “Lifesaving and healing organ, eye and tissue donations are a dramatic example of how we are all teammates in life.”
Six of the donors and recipients in this year’s float were UCLA patients Harry Damon, Sheila Whitney, Reginal “Reggie” Arnes Griffin, Keenan Cheung, Jeanne Cheung, and Sonia Valencia – all part of the 2008 Nick Damon Memorial Kidney Chain, named after Harry Damon's deceased son Nick. These patients were part of one of the first three-way living-donor kidney transplant chains performed in the western United States.
Harry Damon began the altruistic kidney-chain donation to provide people who are incompatible with a loved one’s kidney the opportunity to receive a kidney through an exchange between other pairs of recipients and donors
Whitney received Damon’s kidney after being on dialysis three hours a day for more than six years as a result of lupus. Whitney’s son Reginal “Reggie” Arnes Griffin, who was unable to donate to his mother, donated his kidney to Keenan Cheung, who was experiencing kidney failure. Cheung’s wife Jeanne continued the chain by donating her kidney to Sonia Valencia, who was suffering from Berger’s disease.
This chain has continued matching incompatible pairs over and over, transcending barriers of skin color, gender or religion.