Kidney transplant chains more effective in saving lives

August 9, 2018, University of British Columbia
How kidney chains work. Credit: UBC Sauder School of Business

New research from the UBC Sauder School of the Business has found that transplant societies which prioritize kidney transplant chains over kidney exchanges can increase the total number of transplants, thereby saving more lives.

Typically, donations are allocated in a kidney exchange, where pools of patients are each paired with a loved one willing to donate. When a pair is incompatible because of differences in blood type or other tissue sensitivities, donors within the exchange are swapped among incompatible pairs to allow for more transplants. But, when an altruistic donor—meaning someone willing to donate his or her kidney to anyone in need—enters the kidney exchange, the number of potential transplants increases dramatically.

The study is the first to determine the minimum and maximum number of transplants that can be expected in a kidney for small- and medium-sized exchanges, which are common in medical practice.

"We know through previous studies that kidney transplant chains are incredibly important, but our research has found that adding just one altruistic to a kidney exchange—thereby creating a chain—can lead to substantially more kidney transplants," explains lead author Yichuan Ding, assistant professor at the UBC Sauder School of Business. "Our findings will greatly benefit patients, especially those who are hard-to-match."

Allocating donated kidneys to deserving patients with end-stage renal disease is an important challenge in today's health care system. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2015 there were 2,858 patients waiting for a kidney transplant, with 604 kidneys originating from deceased donors and living donors providing 383.

"Right now, the longest chain in the world has completed 88 transplants since 2013, with additional surgeries still scheduled," Ding says. "We believe our algorithm could be incorporated into current medical decision-making tools to extend this chain even longer, further improving accuracy and speed of matching."

The study, "A non-asymptotic approach to analyzing kidney exchange graphs," was co-authored by Dongdong Ge and Simai He, both from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and Christopher Thomas Ryan from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The article is forthcoming in Operations Research.

Explore further: How to better enable kidney exchanges to save lives and money

Related Stories

How to better enable kidney exchanges to save lives and money

July 12, 2018
Nearly 100,000 people with failing kidneys are on waiting lists for a kidney transplant in the United States, with an average wait of three to five years.

How first 'vouchers' in UCLA kidney donation program led to 25 lifesaving transplants

September 20, 2017
In 2014 a former judge from San Diego County approached the UCLA Kidney Transplant Program with an unusual request: If the judge donated a kidney to a stranger now, could his then 4-year-old grandson, who suffered from chronic ...

Calculator estimates success of kidney transplants with particular donor-recipient pairs

June 8, 2017
Researchers have developed a calculator that estimates the likelihood that a given patient who receives a kidney transplant from a particular living donor would have a functioning kidney 5 and 10 years after transplantation. ...

Last surgeries underway in 12-person kidney transplant chain

March 6, 2015
Surgeons have started the final operations in an organ donation chain that will result in six patients getting new kidneys at a San Francisco hospital.

SF surgeons complete surgeries in kidney transplant chain

March 7, 2015
Surgeons at a San Francisco hospital have completed all the operations in an organ donation chain that gave six patients new kidneys.

After years of growth, fewer transplants done through 'kidney chains'

March 12, 2013
An additional 1,000 patients could undergo kidney transplants in the United States annually if hospitals performed more transplants using paired kidney exchanges, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.

Recommended for you

Surgical adhesions can be treated, prevented in mice

November 28, 2018
A cellular culprit—as well as a possible treatment—for a common, sometimes life-threating post-surgical complication has been identified by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Cost and weight-loss potential matter most to bariatric surgery patients

November 28, 2018
A JAMA Surgery study found that patients are likely to base their weight loss surgery choice on expected out-of-pocket costs, and how much weight they can lose—not risk of complications or recovery time.

Treating spinal pain with replacement discs made of 'engineered living tissue' moves closer to reality

November 21, 2018
For the first time, bioengineered spinal discs were successfully implanted and provided long-term function in the largest animal model ever evaluated for tissue-engineered disc replacement. A new Penn Medicine study published ...

Screening for colorectal cancer spares male patients from intense treatments

November 21, 2018
While screening for colorectal cancer does not reduce mortality, it does reduce the need for chemotherapy and emergency surgeries among male patients, according to a recent Finnish study.

Rapid response inpatient education boosts use of needed blood-thinning drugs

November 16, 2018
A new study designed to reach hospitalized patients at risk shows that a "real-time" educational conversation, video or leaflet can lower the missed dose rates of drugs that can prevent potentially lethal blood clots in their ...

Race plays role in regaining weight after gastric bypass surgery

November 15, 2018
African Americans and Hispanic Americans who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) are at greater risk to regain weight as compared to Caucasians. To date, no study has addressed the effect of race on weight regain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.