Susan Hou, MD, a kidney transplant specialist, was honored at this year's candle-lighting event

Loyola Organ Donor Ceremony Honors Kidney Specialist Who Gave and Received Gift of Life


Each April, Loyola University Medical Center holds a candle-lighting ceremony to pay tribute to organ donors, and to support transplant patients. This year, the ceremony, held April 21, gave special recognition to a physician who is both a living organ donor and a transplant patient: Susan Hou, MD.

In 2002, Dr. Hou, a kidney transplant specialist, donated a kidney to one of her patients, a mother of two whose polycystic kidney disease had progressed to kidney failure. “Some people know they just have to do it, and I was one of them,” Dr. Hou said. “If you believe in the brotherhood of man, there are no unrelated donors.”

Then, 12 years to the day after she donated a kidney, Dr. Hou received a donated lung to treat a life-threatening pulmonary disease. Dr. Hou is believed to be the only transplant physician in history both to donate an organ and receive an organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Now that Dr. Hou has her health back, she has resumed working with a free clinic in Bolivia that she co-founded. The clinic serves more than 3,000 patients a year. “I worry whether the lung should have gone to someone younger,” said Dr. Hou, who was 68 at the time of the transplant. “So I feel a great pressure to make the most of the extra years I have been given.”