Sunday, August 22, 2010

Easing into a national kidney paired donation program

UNOS has a press release on the progress being made towards setting up a national kidney exchange program, headlined Getting it Right: Kidney committee easing into KPD with two-step pilot project

"Some transplant centers throughout the country have been using this method, known as kidney paired donation (KPD), for several years. UNOS has now embarked on a pilot project designed to assess the feasibility of a national kidney paired donation program in which all centers could participate.

"Members of the OPTN/UNOS kidney transplantation committee began discussing the idea of kidney paired donation in 2004. They went as far as proposing a concept they distributed for public comment.

"After receiving positive feedback, the committee distributed a more fully developed proposal in August 2006. Although fleshed out, the proposal was still not ready to go to the OPTN/UNOS board of directors because of concerns about transplant law. As we know, the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) prohibits the sale of organs.

"In 2007, Congress definitively clarified that NOTA’s definition of “valuable consideration” did not apply to the organs in a KPD exchange. The law was later titled the Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation Act in honor of the long-time Georgia representative, a lung recipient and sponsor of the bill, who died in February 2007 before the bill became law.

"Around that time, the OPTN/UNOS kidney transplantation committee had issued a request for information from experts in the field. Committee members wanted to know what centers performing KPD were doing, and how they were doing it. The
community responded generously.

"Then, in February 2008, representatives from multiple transplant centers, OPOs, universities and private organizations across the country came to UNOS to share not only their knowledge but also the software they were using for the complex
matching that KPD required.

"Members of the kidney committee wanted to proceed cautiously before taking on the considerable challenge of coordinating a national KPD system. After much deliberation, they determined that the best strategy was a two-phased pilot project" ...

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