CHICAGO (AP) -- It turns out you can recycle just about anything these days -- even kidneys and other organs donated for transplant.
In Chicago recently, a transplanted kidney that was failing was removed from a patient while he was still alive, and given to someone else.
It's believed to be the first documented case of its kind in the U.S.
There have been other cases of transplant organs being used more than once, but they were rare and involved instances in which the first recipient died.
A Northwestern University transplant specialist says the need for transplanted kidneys "doesn't match our capacity." He says "people die on dialysis" while awaiting kidneys.
A research letter describing the re-transplant appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The patient who was initially given the kidney -- taken from his sister -- is back on dialysis. The kidney was removed from him after the same disease that ruined his own kidneys started to damage the new one. He's expected to get another transplant eventually.