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Act of kindness sets off life-giving chain reaction

One man donated a kidney but a dozen people got something in return.

This is a story that begins and ends in Atlanta but, in between, took place around the country.

A year and a half ago, Steve Baumgartner donated a kidney at Piedmont Hospital to someone who needed one.

That set off a chain of kidney donations that continued on to Ohio, Minnesota, Washington, back to Georgia, North California, and then back to Georgia again last week.

Twelve transplants resulted from Baumgartner's selfless act. Six of those transplants took place at Piedmont Hospital in Buckhead.

The chain ended last week when Lisa Kanter donated to Glenda Dunn.

It's called paired exchange or kidney swapping.

Transplant surgeon Dr. Harrison said it allows for people to get transplants that wouldn't normally be able to receive one.

"There are different networks of computer software that you can enter these people into and the algorithm finds another pair that are incomparable," Harrison said those pairs swap kidney and both are patients receive transplants.

What happened with Baumgartner's chain is a little different. He didn't swap, he just donated and said he didn't expect that one act to go this far. He said he was blessed to meet the person he donated to and said he was touched to meet other people involved.

"To meet other people involved with this was amazing to me."