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November 18, 2011

Seven Sisters of Loyola embody spirit of our mission

Loyola University Medical Center is believed to be the first organization in the country, and perhaps the world, in which five employees have each donated kidneys to complete strangers with no strings attached. Two other employees have donated kidneys to casual acquaintances, also asking nothing in return.

The good Samaritan donors are known as “The Seven Sisters of Loyola.” Officials at two major organ transplant agencies, Gift of Hope and the United Network for Organ Sharing, say they have never heard of so many employees at a single company donating kidneys to non-relatives. The donors say they are seeking nothing more than to give others a second chance for healthy, productive lives.

The Seven Sisters were introduced at a news conference April 27, 2011, at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood.



Because of the Seven Sisters, 28 kidney patients, drained after years of dialysis, were able to return to normal, healthy lives. How could 28 patients receive transplants with the kidneys of 7 women? It all has to do with the magic of transplant chains and the Pay-It-Forward Kidney Transplant Program. Often a kidney patient has someone who wants to donate to them but isn't a match. When an altruistic donor gives a kidney to this patient, their would-be donor can give to someone else and it creates a chain that has the potential of saving hundreds of people. Since it started, this program has helped 19 altruistic donors start chains that led to 96 kidney transplants across the nation, all through chains.

More than 110,000 patients are on waiting lists for organ transplants from deceased donors. Most are waiting for kidneys. Patients typically wait for years, and many patients die before organs become available. Donations from living donors can significantly reduce the wait. However, many patients do not have family members who meet the medical conditions necessary for donation. But due to the generosity of good Samaritan donors, Loyola’s living-donor program has substantially reduced wait times for such patients. A successful transplant triples the life expectancy of a kidney patient who had been on dialysis and dramatically improves the patient's quality of life.

The Seven Sisters of Loyola are:

  • Cristina Lamb, a credentialing coordinator at Loyola, who donated to Robert Rylko, 22, of Rockford, Ill., on March 18, 2010. Lamb lives in Melrose Park, Ill.
  • Dr. Susan Hou, medical director of Loyola’s Renal Transplant Program, who donated to one of her patients, Hermelinda Gutierrez, in 2002. Hou lives in River Forest, Ill.
  • Jodi Tamen, a dental hygienist at Loyola, whose kidney was removed at Loyola and flown to California to a complete stranger, G. Murray Thomas, on April 8, 2010. Tamen lives in West Frankfort, Ill. Thomas is a poet and author of the soon-to-be published book, “My Kidney Just Arrived.”
  • Dorothy Jambrosek, administrative director of the Graduate Medical Education Program at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, whose kidney was removed at Loyola and rushed to another Chicago-area hospital to a complete stranger, a Chicago-area man, on March 4, 2011. Jambrosek lives in Woodridge, Ill.
  • Jane Thomas, a registered nurse in Loyola’s Lung Transplant Program, who donated to a complete stranger, Aaron Green, 38, of Bellwood, Ill., on Aug.12, 2010. Thomas lives in Villa Park, Ill.
  • Cynthia Blakemore, manager of Loyola’s Clinical Laboratory Department, whose kidney was removed at Loyola and flown to a complete stranger in Cornell, N.Y., Memerto Asuncion, 47, on Sept. 2, 2010. Blakemore lives in Montgomery, Ill.
  • Barbara Thomas, an administrative secretary at Loyola’s Kidney Transplant Program, who donated to her tenant, James Love, 34, of Westchester, Ill., on Oct. 22, 2009. Thomas lives in Brookfield, Ill.

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