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Three-way kidney transplant swap involves two local brothers

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 11 2014 05:10:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 11 2014 08:44:03 PM CDT

Patients discuss triple-kidney swap

A pair of Lehigh Valley brothers are happy and healthy after taking part in the Lehigh Valley Health Network's very first three-way transplant swap.

The duo shared its incredible story as part of a transplant symposium at the hospital Friday afternoon.

At age 46, Jeff Peplow started showing signs of kidney failure.

The Allentown man soon learned he needed a kidney transplant.

Little did he know his brother Charlie Lambe would be so quick to offer help.

"He automatically said 'I'll do it,'" said Jeff Peplow.

"He said 'there is no way you're going to do this. I don't want your kidney,'" Lambe said.

Peplow got his way after all.

Test results indicated the brother's weren't compatible for the transplant.

But there was another option: a three-way kidney swap.

Lambe's kidney was removed at the Lehigh Valley Health Network and was then sent to a patient in St. Louis. A kidney in St. Louis was flown to Jacksonville. Then a kidney in Jacksonville was transported to LVHN for Peplow.

It took a lot of organization and cooperation between donors, doctors, and patients in all three cities.

It also took faith.

"It takes a leap of faith to go ahead with this--to trust all of these people and logistics," said Dr. Lynsey Biondi, a transplant surgeon.

Three transplants, three different states, and 2,600 miles later--Peplow had the kidney he needed.

"I'll cherish it to my dying day, knowing someone cares about you that much to put their own life on the line," Peplow said.