UVA has a new way to help people who need a kidney transplant find an organ donor.
UVA has started participating in “paired donor exchanges,” where a friend or family member who wants to donate a kidney to a loved one but isn’t a match for the recipient can instead be paired with another matching recipient. The original patient in need of an organ is also matched with a willing donor.
These exchanges are complicated and often involve a large amount of cross-country coordination, but the payoff is a much wider pool of potential kidney donors for patients.
“The purpose of the swap is to expand the potential donor/recipient combinations to try and find a compatible match,” says Kenneth Brayman, MD, division chief of transplant surgery at UVA, who oversees between 80 and 100 kidney transplants each year.
In December, the paired exchange in which UVA participated connected five patients in five states with compatible kidneys.
Importantly, these paired donor exchanges can mean dramatically shorter wait times for patients who may otherwise be looking at a years-long wait for a new organ.