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Making A Difference
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Red Cross
October 14, 2008

American Red Cross Biomedical Services’ Carey Barrett was looking for a way to help people, to make a difference. He found his solution. This week Carey will be traveling to Houston, TX from his home in Fayetteville, GA to donate one of his kidneys to a perfect stranger.

Carey Barrett
Carey Barrett is traveling from Georgia to Texas to donate one of his kidneys to a perfect stranger.

Why would someone do this, you might ask. Well, according to Carey, in this country over 75,000 people are now waiting for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor in America. Twelve of these people die every day.

Carey says he has always been listed as a potential organ donor on his driver’s license, but then he watched a television news segment about the organization known as the Alliance for Paired Donation (APD), which has developed what it calls NEAD Chains - Never Ending Altruistic Donor Chains - and admired the unique way people could help through their program.

APD has found a way to "turn a single act of human kindness into a never-ending cascade of benevolence." According to the NEAD web site, one altruistic donor – someone who simply wants to donate a kidney to a person in need – gives a kidney to someone who is suffering from kidney failure. But the cascade doesn’t end there – it’s just the beginning. The recipient’s first donor who was incompatible and couldn’t give them a kidney is freed up to give their kidney to someone else with whom they are compatible. The second recipient’s incompatible donor can then do the same, and the cascading donor chain continues. Because the donors are giving to someone not in their original circle, it is called an altruistic donor chain. If that chain of donors continues and never stops, it is never ending. Thus the name NEAD – Never Ending Altruistic Donor.

"This is a good opportunity to help someone,” Carey said, "It’s such a unique way to donate, a "Pay It Forward" idea. Ten, twelve, eighteen – a lot of people can be helped. You only need one kidney to lead a healthy life, and there is such a need."

So, this Wednesday, Carey Barrett will give his kidney to someone he doesn’t know. He says he’s not frightened, just looking forward to helping someone. The surgery will require about a week in the hospital in Houston. Carey hopes to be back at work in about two weeks.

ABC World News will travel to Houston to interview him as part of a story they are working on about NEAD. "This is a great opportunity to get the word out," Carey said, "to let people know about a great way the average guy can help."

When asked if he would include a plug about the Red Cross blood program, Carey said he was still working on how to get the Red Cross angle into his interview. "Without blood, there would be no elective surgeries like this," he said, "You can make a difference. You don’t have to be rich or talented to make the world a better place. Donate a kidney. Or give blood. If you can’t do that, give your money or your time."

Carey is a Principal Associate in Process Design for Biomedical Services Collections, working for Biomedical Headquarters under Senior Director of Collections Pat Demaris. He and his wife, Monique, have two children – son Caleb, 17, and daughter Alexia, 15. In addition to his Red Cross duties, he and his wife teach ballroom dance. A member of the community theatre in Fairburn, GA, he labels himself an "acting hack". "It’s fun and keeps you busy," he says, "it’s a good way to get involved in your community."

In December, Carey will have served the Red Cross for twelve years. A native Canadian, he is a clinical microbiologist, receiving his education at the University of Saskatchewan.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The American Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission.

About the Alliance for Paired Donation: The Alliance for Paired Donation is headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. A 501(c)3 organization, APD's mission is to save lives by significantly shortening the waiting time for kidney patients through paired donation. In its first eighteen months of operation, the Alliance for Paired Donation facilitated 23 paired exchange transplants; more than half of these were due to altruistic donors. Learn more about the program by visiting www.paireddonation.org or by calling (419) 866-5505.


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