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Living kidney donors fill unmet need

July 10, 2018 | UCI Health
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Most transplanted kidneys come from people whose organs were donated upon death. Living kidney donations offer significant advantages: They have a lower risk of rejection and they function better and longer than kidneys from deceased donors.

Xenia Morales had a unique opportunity because her sister donated her kidney,” says nephrologist Dr. Uttam G. Reddy, medical director of the UCI Health kidney transplant program. “She could still be on dialysis if her sister hadn’t given her this gift of life.”

Xenia’s transplant worked well because her sister’s kidney was nearly a perfect match. But what if their blood types didn’t match, making the donated kidney incompatible with Xenia’s body?

Finding a kidney donor match

Through its living donor paired exchange program, UCI Health would have searched for a transplant candidate in a similar situation and arrange a donor swap. The program often links two, three or even more pairs of compatible people to get viable kidney exchanges.

Because the number of patients needing a kidney transplant far exceeds the availability of matching cadaver kidneys, UCI Health has launched a program to encourage living kidney donors.

A third of the kidney transplants performed last year were from living donors, Reddy says.

“We want that to increase. I view dialysis as a bridge to transplant, and we want to keep that bridge as short as possible.”

Kidney failure facts

  • 661,000 Americans with kidney failure*
  • 468,000 patients on dialysis*
  • 193,000 patients living with a functioning kidney transplant*
  • 19,060 U.S. kidney transplants performed**
  • 13,431 from deceased donors**
  • 5,629 from living donors**

*Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

**United Network for Organ Sharing (2016)

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