A recent letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine reports on the kidney exchange ("kidney paired donation") program at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, TX.
Bingaman AW, Wright FH, Murphey CL., "Kidney paired donation in live-donor kidney transplantation," N Engl J Med. 2010 Sep 9;363(11):1091-2.
"Our center established a KPD program enrolling all consenting recipient candidates who had incompatible donors as well as compatible pairs with donors over the age of 45 years. Since we initiated the program in March 2008, we have performed 83 KPD procedures, including 22 two-way and 13 three-way exchanges.
"If the productivity of our KPD program were to be replicated on a national level, it would potentially result in approximately 2000 additional
live-donor transplantations annually and reduce the number of patients on the waiting list. The increased use of this procedure would also probably avert many difficult desensitization therapies. No recent advance in transplantation has achieved such an apparent increase in access to live-donor transplantation, especially in sensitized patients.
"We believe that all transplantation centers should consider the development of an effective KPD program in order to give patients with incompatible donors a full range of options to achieve successful transplantation."
And here's a news report of another exchange at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
All eight patients OK after four-way kidney transplant (Chicago Sun Times, Sept. 23, 2010)
"Arlene Hoffman was Jane Delimba's postal carrier for only about three months. But when Hoffman bumped into Delimba at a Wal-Mart seven years later and learned she needed a kidney transplant, Hoffman didn't hesitate to offer one of her own.
"The two weren't a compatible match.
"Still, Hoffman's generosity helped make it possible for four people, including Delimba, to receive kidney transplants last week in what's known as a "four-way paired exchange."
"In simultaneous operations that took place last Thursday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, four living donors each gave up a kidney, and four people whose kidneys were failing each got one. All eight patients, ranging in age from 28 to 74, are doing well."
And from another story about that exchange: "Northwestern Memorial transplant surgeons performed their first paired exchange in 2006. To date, the hospital has completed 38 paired exchange transplants. "