Can Non-Directed Kidney Donor Chains Play Key Part In Contributing To Additional Yearly Transplants?

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There are approximately 93,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States. A successful kidney transplant requires first and foremost an appropriate match between the donor and recipient. One-third of patients who manage to find a living donor learn they are the wrong blood type or are otherwise incompatible. Paired Kidney Exchanges and Non-Directed Kidney Donor Chains offer a very high rate of successful transplants.

Recommended Reading: The Fastest Growing Transplant Source for Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

The fastest growing source of live donors over the past several years has been via paired donor exchanges and non-directed kidney donor chains. Paired donor exchange involves a kidney recipient swapping his/her intended donor with another unknown, but more compatible, recipient in order to receive a kidney transplant from their donor. In this way both donors can provide healthy kidneys to both recipients when a transplant would have not been possible previously. Researchers found that non-directed (altruistic) donors triggered almost five transplants on average. Thus, in cases involving paired donors that do not work due to donor/recipient pairs not matching, then a viable alternative is to perform a non-directed “chain” donation. Non-directed donor chains work similarly to paired kidney donations, in that they take advantage of healthy and willing volunteers who agree to donate their kidney. Those donors are then redirected to the best suited recipient. The chain, by definition begins with an altruistic donor and is perpetuated by participating  in swapping between the intended donor/recipient until everybody is matched up to receive the kidney that Doctor's believe offers the best possible conditions for success when transplanted. 

Recommended Reading: Should you Accept the Kidney Now or Wait for a Better One?

The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics recently organized a donor chain of 56 participants, the second-largest kidney swap ever and the largest completed in less than 40 days. It began April 30th with an altruistic donor in Memphis and ended June 5th in Cleveland, stretching over 13 states and 19 transplant centers within 36 days. The world's longest kidney donor chain was just completed last year in the United States providing 30 patients with kidneys from 30 living donors. There is always the chance that a potential donor will change his/her mind or no longer be medically able to give up a kidney, which can disrupt the chain and may cause it to fall apart. So, the longer the chains are, the higher chance they will "break." By choosing a transplant center geographically convenient to a you and your potential donor can save on out of pocket costs.

Recommended Reading: Why is a Significant Portion of the Dialysis Patient Community Refusing Kidney Transplantation?

Although kidney donor chains do not cater to the sickest of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients, they can help reduce the time people spend on a waiting list, simply by reducing the list size. Obviously, the more people who are transplanted, the more access others on the list have to deceased donors which makes this a win-win situation. Hence, suggests that you discuss Paired Kidney Exchanges and Non-Directed Kidney Donor Chains with your healthcare team and your potential donors. 

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"UW Health Participates in Largest Kidney Swap Ever Performed in Less than 40 Days."

"Kidney Paired Donation." Mercy Transplant Center