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Kidney donor wanted in child support case

CHATTANOOGA -- Authorities are seeking to extradite a Tennessee man, wanted for failing to pay child support, after learning that he underwent surgery in Colorado to donate his kidney to someone he was matched with through an Internet site.

Rob Smitty, 32, faces charges of failing to pay his former wife $8,100 in child support and medical payments, and a warrant is out for his arrest. He was recovering in a Denver hospital following surgery Wednesday to donate his kidney.

A Bradley County Sheriff's Department spokesman on Friday said prosecutors were looking into whether Smitty could be extradited.

Smitty and the operators of MatchingDonors.com, the website where Smitty was matched with kidney recipient Bob Hickey, maintain the donation was not motivated by money.

Hickey is expected to pick up about $5,000 in transportation costs and other expenses incurred by Smitty.

Denver doctors performed the operation after granting what the hospital called a "compassionate exception" and being reassured that neither man stood to profit from the transplant.

Federal law prohibits the sale of organs.

"Mr. Smitty gave up a piece of himself. He did an amazing and wonderful thing," said Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, medical director of MatchingDonors.com.

But Angie McCoy, Smitty's former wife, said she didn't think Smitty was acting out of altruism.

"It's unethical, and it's not right," she said.

State records show McCoy has not received a child support payment from Smitty in nine months. The couple, who divorced in 1999, have a 10-year-old daughter.

Smitty's next court date in the dispute is Nov. 9. Federal officials declined to comment Friday on whether they would investigate the organ donation.

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