The patient's kidneys were infected, inflamed, and all but useless. For a time, he had been kept alive by drugs and a strict diet limiting his intake of fluids and salt. But that was only temporary treatment. His doctors calculated that he had about eight weeks to live.

What he needed was a new kidney; doctors at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital who have pioneered with transplanted kidneys since 1950, decided to try and give him one. First they needed a healthy volunteer to donate a kidney. They found one—a woman. Then they got down to one of the most hazardous tasks...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!