Twin aids wounded brother in rare living donor intestinal transplant

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CHICAGO — A selfless sacrifice brings identical twin brothers closer than ever.

“My cousin said, ‘Oh, that’s why there are two of y’all — you all can swap parts,’” Patrick Noel recalls.

Those words were more than an innocent joke for Patrick and his identical twin brother, Derrick.

“I’d give it to him again if I had to,” Derrick says.

Last July, Patrick was shot six times in front of his Calumet City home, a case of mistaken identity.

“Everything changed in the blink of an eye,” he says.

Patrick underwent 35 surgeries. But damage to his intestines was severe enough to threaten his ability to eat and digest foods for the rest of his life.

“Once they found out I had a twin, they said, ‘Wait a minute,’” he says.

Medically, the 32-year-old twins are identical inside and out. Doctors knew Derrick could safely donate 7 feet of his own intestines, giving his brother a more normal life.

“It was just like a press and play. They cut it out and put it in, and it was working,” Patrick, the recipient, says.

Dr. Enrico Benedetti, the UIC Medical Center surgeon who performed the transplant, explains:

“Since they are identical twins, the tissue is identical – therefore, there is no rejection.”

Living-donor intestinal transplants are rare because rejection rates are much higher than with other organs. Globally, they’ve totalled just 65.

“By eliminating the rejection you eliminate the risk of death,” Benedetti says.

The brothers were close before the transplant. Surgery has only made them closer.

“It meant everything to me — it meant everything to me,” Patrick Noel says.

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About the Author:

Corey Bryant serves as Director of Communications for The Alliance.
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