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Donnelly man is MeritCare's 500th transplant recipient

In 1989, Fargo's first kidney transplant was performed. Nineteen years later, on March 13, a Donnelly man became its 500th transplant recipient.

Richard Wente, 64, of Donnelly, appeared at a press conference with Dr. Bhargav Mistry, MeritCare transplant surgeon, and Carol LeMier, 47, of Fargo, N.D., who was the first person to receive a transplant in Fargo.

Wente is only the second person to have a double-kidney transplant at MeritCare.

Richard is married, and has two children and two grandchildren.

Of the 500 transplants, 452 have been kidney transplants and 48 were pancreas transplants.

While the 500th transplant is a worthy reason to celebrate, MeritCare officials note that it's also important that nationally, there are close to 100,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, including more than 2,500 in the Upper Midwest.

According to LifeSource, the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest, each day, 17 people die while waiting for a transplant simply because there are not enough organs available. A new name is added to the transplant waiting list every 13 minutes.