Jake Coan (left) and his sister-in-law Tracie Niemeyer after the transplant surgery. (Family photo)
SAN ANTONIO (February 22, 2013)—Tracie Niemeyer, 37, of West was recovering Friday night at a hospital in San Antonio after receiving a kidney from a live donor in a carefully choreographed series of transplants in which her brother-in-law, Jake Coan, 34, of West was one of the donors.
Niemeyer and Coan were both in private rooms Friday night at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio after becoming the 200th couple to participate in the hospital’s 5-year-old live kidney donor exchange program, which Director Dr. Adam Bingaman says has taken off the in the past few years.
Coan, who served three Army tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, triggered the 12-person cycle Thursday when he donated a kidney to an unknown recipient.
After four other swaps, an anonymous donor who was a match with Niemeyer donated a kidney for her transplant.
Niemeyer, a mother of three, was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was 4.
She had already received one kidney transplant and was on a wait list for another for six years.
Bingaman said he was impressed with Coan's service to the country and said it did not surprise him that Coan was willing to donate a kidney to a stranger to give his sister-in-law a new lease on life
Niemeyer’s surgery lasted for three-and-a-half-hours while Coan was in surgery across the hall for two-and-a-half hours.
Bingaman said Niemeyer’s stood a single chance in 11 years of a match with a deceased donor, but when Coan agreed to enter the exchange program, a near-match was much more quickly found.
She was treated with antibodies for four days before the surgery to ensure that her body would accept the donated organ.
Coan's surgeon, Dr. Luke Chen, said the veteran should be able to live a normal life.
Coan said he was in some pain Friday night, but glad the ordeal is over.
Niemeyer was out of intensive care and in a private room as well, Friday night.
Coan could be released from the hospital in just a few days, but
Niemeyer is expected to stay an extra five days.