Atwood reunites with woman she profiled

(NEWS CENTER) -- More than 20 years after her original profile, Diane Atwood followed up with a woman who has survived two kidney transplants.

Ellen Munson was only 28 years old when she had a kidney transplant after being on dialysis for five years. Ten years ago, her kidney stopped working and she had to go back on dialysis. She was on dialysis another eight years before she received a second kidney transplant .

Atwood learned the average lifespan of a kidney from a deceased donor, which is what Munson had, is 15 years. It is a little bit longer if it's from a living donor.Munson's lasted 18 years.

Although Munson qualified for a second kidney transplant, she had some challenges. Her body had built up antibodies in her blood that would make her body reject a new kidney, a condition doctors call "sensitized." Another issue was that her cousin was willing to be her donor, but she wasn't a match.

The average wait time for a kidney is three to five years, according to the Kidney Link organization. Munson did some research and found the Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. She and her cousin were accepted and matched to a father and son in Washington state. Munson's cousin donated to the father and the son donated to Ellen. Medical officials call this a paired kidney exchange or kidney swap.

Before the transplant, Ellen had 22 plasmapheresis treatments to get rid of the unwanted antibodies. The procedure is similar to dialysis, but it only removes the plasma in the blood, which is where the antibodies are located.

Her second kidney transplant was in March 2012. She recently had a checkup in Baltimore and so far the kidney is working well.

People can sign up to be an organ donor during license renewal. To read more about Munson's story, visit Atwood's blog, She also asks any other viewers she did previous stories on to get in touch through her blog.


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