Kidney transplant recipients meet donors for first time

A cake to honor the fact that two kidney transplant recipients meet their donors for the first time.

A cake to honor the fact that two kidney transplant recipients meet their donors for the first time. (6/24/16)

HACKENSACK - Two families, connected by the bond of organ donation, met for the first time Friday.

Kenneth Furlong and Debra Ferman both had kidney disease, were very sick and were on dialysis.

"It's not a great way of living when you have to be on dialysis.  You feel tired, you're short of breath and you have a lot of issues,” says Hackensack University Medical Center Transplant Surgery Chief Dr. James Lin.

Furlong's son wanted to donate his kidney to his dad but they weren't compatible.  It was the same situation with Ferman's husband.  But they did match with the other patients.

Furlong’s son was able to donate a kidney to Ferman, and Ferman’s husband was able to donate one to Furlong.

"I learned a ton from my dad, and I'm not ready to stop learning yet so it's good to keep him around, and it's great to help someone else too,” says Kenneth Furlong Jr.

"Everything's changed and I said I think I have a piece of him in me,” says Ferman. “But it's such a beautiful thing that he did and my husband, saving lives."

It turns out the families are connected by more than just body parts. The two families apparently live blocks from each other in West New York but didn't find out about that until they met. 

It’s estimated that there are about 5,000 people in New Jersey who are currently waiting for a kidney transplant.

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