Kidney transplant involving two former strangers deemed a success

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Kidney recipient Curlethia Ghomes (left) and her donor Michele Longford (Photo courtesy Michele Longford)
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By Latrishka Thomas

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“There is absolutely nothing I would change about the entire process,” declared Michele Longford, the donor whose kidney has been successfully transplanted into a woman she met just last year.

And, after being poked and prodded for almost a year in preparation for the life-saving surgery, the 29-year-old recipient, Curlethia Ghomes, now has the new kidney she was so desperately in need of, and the procedure was seamless.

Longford, the 42-year-old donor who had only met Ghomes in August 2021, said that after they both spent hours in surgery just days ago on April 22 at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre they are both “absolutely fine” and are recovering well.

The landmark surgeries were performed by two doctors from Ohio in the USA — Dr Obi Ekwanna who operated on Longford, and Dr Rees who was assigned to Ghomes.

A team of local doctors also observed the procedures, she added.

Meanwhile, despite having to undergo many tests and enduring hundreds of injections before the surgery to harvest her kidney, Longford said, “I quite enjoyed it because I did learn a lot about my body. I did learn a lot about persons who are on dialysis. I’m more sensitised now about healthy eating, healthy living, taking care of myself.”

She is currently resting at home for a six-week period, while Ghomes, who will have a longer recovery time, is still a patient at the hospital “just to make sure everything is absolutely fine before they release her”, Longford told Observer.

Nevertheless, the kidney donor revealed that her now very close friend is in great spirits.

“I think she is excited because when you’re on dialysis you haven’t had certain functions and now that she has a kidney it’s totally different. From day one of getting the kidney, her life is totally different and I think she is super excited,” she shared.

Last year, Longford first contacted Ghomes after she came across a social media post requesting assistance for Ghomes, who had been on dialysis for 10 years, and she immediately decided that she wanted to “help somebody have a healthy life”. 

Now, Longford says that she considers Ghomes to be family.

“At this point, I see Curlethia as my sister. From the time I said ‘sure I don’t mind giving her a kidney’, they welcomed me with open arms and so we’ve all just become like family … we’ll just be like that going forward forever,” she shared.

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