Creative program expands kidney transplant options

The Emory Transplant Center at Emory University Hospital recently opened its innovative Paired Donor Kidney Exchange Program, providing greater hope for patients in need of kidney transplants.

A multi-patient organ swap, known as a paired donor exchange, can now save the lives of numerous people while matching each patient with the very best kidney for his or her blood profile.

Nearly 85,000 Americans are on a waiting list for a donated kidney – nearly 3,000 in Georgia alone. The opportunity to quickly identify and match more organ donors and recipients is critical to saving more lives.

This month, Emory’s transplant team performed this type of exchange involving a total of six patients – three donors and three recipients – from Texas, Colorado and Georgia.

In April, Howard Irving Scott, III, received a new kidney at Emory University Hospital. The kidney came to him as part of a six-person paired kidney transplant “chain,” in which three recipients and three donors were cross-matched. One of the participants was a friend of his, Casey Campbell. Although Scott did not receive Campbell’s kidney, her participation in the program made the “chain” transplant possible, saving Scott the possibility of waiting five years on a kidney.

According to Kenneth Newell, MD, director of Emory’s living donor program, a paired exchange donation is a process that essentially allows healthy individuals to donate a kidney to either a friend, loved one or even altruistically to a stranger, despite incompatible blood matches.

In paired donation, a donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor and recipient pair and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs.

Newell says that a paired donor exchange allow the team to cast a much wider net to find compatible donors and recipients. With a paired kidney transplant, one incompatible donor-pair is able to give a healthy kidney to a compatible recipient.

In exchange, the second donor-recipient pair will give a compatible kidney to the first donor-recipient pair, making two compatible living donor transplants possible and increasing the potential number of available donor kidneys, says Newell.

This option can help those patients waiting for kidney transplants who have family members or friends willing to be donors and who are medically suitable, but who have an ABO blood type that is incompatible with the recipient’s blood type.

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Lance Skelly

Associate Director, Public Relations Emory Hospitals lance.skelly@emoryhealthcare.org 404-686-8538 Office 404-686-5500 Pager (ID 14574) 404-290-0653 Mobile

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