Son donates kidney to speed up transplant process for his father

Jun 16, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 9:28 am

HIGHLAND, Utah — A Utah County man expects to enjoy his best Father’s Day ever. He has his health back after a decade-long battle with kidney disease. One of his sons gave him the ultimate gift this year.

“My life is better now, for sure. So, kind of a new lease on life,” said Doug Bassett.

A decade ago, he found out he had polycystic kidney disease, and would ultimately get sick enough to need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Last year, his kidney function declined enough that he was put on the National Kidney Registry. Family members got tested to see if they were compatible donors.

“None of them turned out to be a match for me,” he said. “That was a little disheartening.”

Right now, more than 600 Utahns are waiting for a kidney transplant. Nationally, there are 106,000 patients waiting for that life-saving transplant.

“For every 10 people that need a donation, there’s one available match,” Bassett said. “So, I was hoping the odds would catch up in my favor, eventually, before I would either die or go on dialysis.”

His son Mitchell was not a compatible donor, but he could still help save his father’s life with the ultimate gift.

The National Kidney Registry has a paired organ exchange program.

“I have been taking care of him for many years as his urologist,” Mitchell said. “So, I always knew that it was a possibility that he was going to need a kidney.”

Mitchell Bassett is a kidney surgeon and knew his dad might need a kidney donor someday.

“I went into it knowing there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be a match and that I wouldn’t be giving my kidney, but I was committed either way,” the son said.

When Mitchell found out he was not a match, he decided to donate a kidney to someone else on the registry. In return, his father would be eligible sooner for a compatible kidney from a stranger.

“Every kidney transplant is a life-saving operation,” said Dr. Aamir Raza, Doug‘s kidney transplant specialist at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

He described the paired organ exchange as a beautiful thing.

“One of your loved ones or your friend donates a kidney into the exchange program and someone else donates a kidney to you. That kidney that you receive will be a better matched kidney as compared to the kidney you’re getting from your loved one,” Raza said.

Doug feels great and said he has regained much of the strength and energy that he lost over the last decade.

“It’s years of my life that I now can live that I might not have been able to live before,” he said.

Mitchell and Doug Bassett today. Doug Bassett (right) received a life-saving kidney transplant assisted by his son, Michael Bassett (left).

On Thursday, he was packing up and headed into the mountains to spend Father’s Day weekend with his family with an even stronger bond with his son.

“What son wouldn’t do that, especially if you’re the only option?” Mitchell said.

Rasa asks everyone to consider signing up for the transplant registry donation to save a person’s life. The Intermountain Transplant Program is the only program in Utah that has a partnership with the National Kidney Registry.

“Give it to someone you don’t know,” he said. “A lot of people will do that just out of the goodness of their heart. We call them altruistic donors. It’s really a beautiful thing.”

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Son donates kidney to speed up transplant process for his father