A man who turned to the Internet in hopes of finding a kidney donor underwent dialysis today to prepare to receive his new organ, after doctors had postponed the procedure over questions about the practice of Web matching.
Bob Hickey, 58, underwent dialysis early today, to be followed by a meeting with Igal Kam, M.D., the surgeon whose objections postponed the transplant. The meeting was described as a time for "healing the scars of the last several days."
The operation was scheduled to begin later today and take about four hours.
Kam suddenly canceled Monday's transplant operation after learning that Hickey had met his donor, Robert Smitty, 32, of Chattanooga, Tenn., through a Web site called MatchingDonors.com. Smitty agreed to give Hickey one of his kidneys before the two men ever met.
The hospital's Clinical Ethics Committee met Tuesday to evaluate concerns about the transplant, including whether either Hickey or Smitty stood to profit from the arrangement. The panel later advised the hospital to make a compassionate exception, once both men had signed statements indicating that neither would benefit financially.
"Certainly, we know this was very difficult for Mr. Hickey and Mr. Smitty, and our first concern has always been for them," Mimi Roberson, chief executive of Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver, said in a statement late Tuesday. "We're pleased we were able to resolve this quickly with a compassionate exception. But it's also important to note that organ donations continue to be the topic of a broader national debate and more answers are needed."
Roberson insisted, however, that the granting of an exception in this case was not to be construed as an endorsement by the hospital of MatchingDonors.com and said officials would give greater scrutiny to such arrangements in the future.
Smitty, though, said he felt vindicated, after the hospital made it appear as though he had ulterior motives -- such as making money off Hickey.
"They're allowing me to do something just good for this man," Smitty said. "Maybe they went and found out I don't have a million dollars in the bank somewhere. I feel grateful, privileged to be wearing the shoes I am."