Perfect Match: One donor gave two teens second chance at life


Posted on June 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 19 at 6:38 PM

Sally-Ann Roberts / Eyewitness News

Over the next several months Eyewitness News is committed to raising awareness about the need for organ and bone marrow donations in a series of reports and specials called “The Perfect Match - Supporting Sally-Ann & Robin Roberts.”

NEW ORLEANS – 15-year-old Jason Lahatte has a new kidney. He had a life-saving transplant at Children’s Hospital – the donation coming from by an anonymous family in the midst of an excruciating loss.

“You feel great,” said Jason’s father, Joe Lahatte. “But, you also feel sad because you think about what they’re going through because they had to bury their child, but my son lives.”

16-year-old April Patterson is alive and well after she received a kidney from the same donor, on the same day as Jason.

“Fortunately the kidneys came and we were able to split the kidney between Jason and April,” said Dr. Oluwatoyin Bamgbola, a pediatric nephrologist with LSU Health Sciences Center.

June 3, 2012 was their independence day as they no longer had to be dependent on a dialysis machine.

“This kidney gives me a chance to do a lot of stuff I’ve always wanted to do,” said Patterson. “(It allows me) to travel, to go to college. It gave me life.”

“I want to be a doctor,” said Lahatte. “I just want to help people like I got helped.”

This was the second kidney transplant for both April and Jason. They thrived for many years after their initial transplants, but when those kidneys failed, they returned to the transplant list.

“She’s walking around with no pain medication,” marveled April’s father, Derrick Patterson. “It’s just a miracle.”

“Now my son has a second chance at life – we’re very grateful,” echoed Johnie Lahatte.

April and Jason have gotten a second chance at life, but many others are still waiting. At Children’s Hospital alone, as many as 18 children are on dialysis.

Jason and April have a brighter future because of a donor family they may never meet.

“I just want to tell them ‘thank you’ and I really do appreciate it,” said April through tears. “Even though they lost a life, they gave me life and I can do a lot of stuff that I never had a chance to do.”

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be doing stories and hosting a series of public events to highlight the need for organ and bone marrow donors, in our "Perfect Match" program. We’ll also make it easier for people to sign up.

Click here for more information.