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Siblings Receive Kidney Transplant Hours Apart at Tufts Medical Center

February 1, 2024

John Previti was in pre-op on the day of his kidney transplant when he mentioned that he hoped his sister Denise D’Amelio would soon have a donor as well. Minutes later, in a twist that surprised everyone, John learned his sister was at the Medical Center to receive her kidney transplant that very day.

“The clinical team didn’t realize John and Denise were brother and sister until pre-op because they have different last names,” said Ashtar Chami, MD, Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation at Tufts Medical Center. “The timing was crazy. To my knowledge, we’ve never transplanted siblings on the same day before at Tufts Medical Center.”

John was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2022 after experiencing long bouts of fatigue and low energy. His girlfriend Tracy immediately volunteered to be a living donor. Though she and John were not a match, in mid-2023, the Tufts Medical Center kidney transplant team was able to connect the couple with an altruistic donor who was a match for John. A 4-way kidney swap with another patient who was a match with Tracy was scheduled for October 25, 2023, right before John would have required dialysis.

Meanwhile, Denise had been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease which soon progressed to stage 5. She was placed on the national kidney transplant list, and once approved she was moved straight to the top because she had donated a kidney to her father 34 years ago.

Within weeks, a kidney became available for Denise. She came to Tufts MC for the transplant, but the kidney was poor quality, so the procedure was canceled. But just 2 days later, on October 25, 2023, Denise received a call that another deceased donor kidney was available for her. She told the kidney transplant team she would take it, and headed back to Tufts MC – where she had donated a kidney to her father more than three decades earlier.

Both transplants went smoothly and as expected. The next morning, Denise walked over to John’s hospital room to visit, and they both started crying.

“It was very emotional,” said Denise. “The last couple of years have been so tough for both of us. We each knew the other needed a kidney transplant, but we just couldn’t believe the way things worked out.”

Nearly three months post-transplant, both John and Denise are doing extremely well. Denise says she feels stronger every day; John reports his energy has greatly improved and he is looking forward to resuming physical activity and getting back to the gym. The siblings come back to Tufts MC together every few weeks for routine checkups with Dr. Chami, and she is very pleased with their recovery. John and Denise acknowledge they have a lot to look forward to – in 2024 and beyond.

“We have so much to be thankful for,” said John. “The whole thing was unreal – the luck, the timing…no one can believe it!

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