Danbury Hospital Employee Gives Gift of Life to Brother

Western Connecticut Health Network
Craig Wiltshire, 2019

DANBURY, Connecticut, January 30, 2019 — As a living donor, Craig Wiltshire generously donated his kidney to his younger brother, Chad. Now that’s brotherly love!

For 12 years, Craig has been an echocardiography technologist at Danbury Hospital and Western Connecticut Medical Group. He helps patients at Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Ridgefield Cardiology, all part of the Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN).

In August 2018 during a family vacation in Florida, Chad suddenly fell ill and ended up in the hospital. He was still not feeling well when he returned home to New York, so he decided to have further testing. Tests revealed that Chad’s kidneys were not functioning properly. His doctor said the exact cause was unknown, but what his doctor did know was that Chad’s kidneys were starting to fail. 

Chad’s doctor recommended adding him to the national transplant waiting list immediately. The goal was to find a kidney for Chad before he would need dialysis. The average wait time for a kidney from the national deceased donor waiting list in the United States is five years.

Because it can take such a long time to receive a kidney from a deceased donor, Craig and his younger brother Cameron both decided to get tested to see if they were a match for their brother Chad.

The testing they underwent was tissue typing, a blood test that matches the number of antigens the donor and recipient share. Each person has six basic tissue typing antigens shared equally from their parents.

Cameron was not a match but Craig was. In fact, Craig was a perfect match, meaning that he and Chad shared six out of the six antigens that determine if a donor is a match for a recipient. This is only possible between siblings. This was excellent news, since the greater the number of matching antigens, the more likely the recipient will accept the donor kidney. Anyone that receives an organ transplant needs to be on immunosuppressant, or antirejection, medications long term. The perfect match also meant Chad could likely be on fewer medications.

Craig said it was a lot to absorb when he first learned that he was a perfect match for Chad. Craig is married with two young daughters, and he had to think about his family and how this would affect them. He knew his daughters were concerned about him, but they were also very worried about their uncle.

Craig said he did some soul searching, but quickly realized that donating his kidney to Chad was the right thing to do. “I had the cure, and Chad needed it,” said Craig. “As for my daughters, I’m hoping this will set a good example for them about how we take care of our family.”

Craig (Left) and Chad (Right) Wiltshire, 2018 
Craig (Left) and Chad (Right)

Craig did a lot of research. He felt reassured to learn that most people can function perfectly fine with one kidney. He had confidence in the medical team at Westchester Medical Center (Craig and Chad both live in New York). Ultimately, he knew he wanted to help his brother.

Craig and Chad’s surgery took place on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. The surgery involved two separate surgical teams, and two separate operating rooms that were right next to each other.

Today, Craig and Chad are both doing well!

Chad (Left) and Craig (Right) Wiltshire, Post Surgery, 2019  Craig Wiltshire, Post Surgery, 2019  
First Picture: Chad (Left) and Craig (Right) Post Surgery; Second Picture: Craig, Post Surgery

Craig’s WCHN cardiovascular service line colleagues could not be prouder of him. On his last day at work before the surgery, Craig’s colleagues — donning kidney stickers — gathered for a surprise lunch to send him off with best wishes.

Craig Wiltshire and Cardiovascular Team, 2019
Craig (Middle) and WCHN Cardiovascular Colleagues

Craig is a true inspiration! Let’s all wish Craig and Chad well as they each recovery from surgery. We’re with you and your family, Craig!

Catch up on the latest news at WCHN. Visit wchn.org/news today!

Amy Forni, Manager, Public Relations