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Transplant surgeon explains how living donor chains work

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There are more than 90,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in the U.S. Unfortunately, the demand for kidneys exceeds the supply. However, so-called living donor chains are giving hope to those in need of vital organs.

Dr. Shennen Mao, a Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon, explains how donor chains work.

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national waiting list.

"It's more than 80,000 people," says Dr. Mao.

She says living kidney donor chains are a great way to increase the number of available organs for transplant.

"A living kidney donor chain is when someone altruistically donates a kidney, meaning donates a kidney with not a specific individual in mind, that can start a chain effect of donors," explains Dr. Mao.

A donor chain also can be initiated when a good Samaritan donates on behalf of a friend or family member, but unfortunately, they're not a direct match for the recipient. The incompatible donor then donates their kidney to another person who is a match, while the original recipient gets a kidney from another compatible donor in the chain.

"There's no limit on the . There have been chains of two, four, eight, sometimes even more," says Dr. Mao.

It's a gift that keeps on giving. Living donor chains expand the pool, helping more people in need of a kidney transplant.

2024 Mayo Clinic News Network. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: Transplant surgeon explains how living donor chains work (2024, April 10) retrieved 22 May 2024 from
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