New Option for Denied Kidney Donor Pairs

Dallas, TX (April 2, 2008) - Patients on the kidney transplant waiting list with potential living donors who are immunologically incompatible now have another option besides continuing to search for another donor. At the National Kidney Foundation’s Spring Clinical Meetings held here, Ajay Israni, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Community Health at the University of Minnesota, will present details of a revolutionary new system that helps incompatible donor pairs.

It’s called the paired-exchange program, in which transplant centers exchange information about incompatible donor pairs, and link up two incompatible pairs that are compatible with each other. Last year, Israni helped start a program that exchanges pair donor information between nine different centers in the U.S. Midwest.

Similar programs have been established across the country, and it’s now up to doctors to mention they exist to patients who have found an incompatible donor and may not realize they have other options.

“Anytime you have a willing candidate and a willing donor, but they are incompatible, that is a missed opportunity,” Israni says. “The paired-exchange program takes advantage of that opportunity, and links up incompatible pairs that may, with luck, be compatible with each other. Doctors need to be aware of the closest exchange program to their facility, so they can mention it if a donor pair doesn’t work.”

Israni will present details and the newest information about pair-exchange programs from 1 to 1:30 PM on Wednesday, April 2, during session #220: Transplant trends in the 21st Century.

Other U.S. programs include one based in New England and another at Johns Hopkins University, as well as through organizations like the Alliance for Paired Donation.

During his presentation, Israni will also describe how he established a pair-exchange program, and some of the logistical challenges involved.

For instance, transplant centers compete with each other for patients – getting them to work together can involve some finessing, he says. But it’s worth it: “It’s great to see transplant centers come together, since it’s a great help to patients, and a great help to each facility, since a successful pairing means two successful operations.”

The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.

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