Paired Kidney Exchange

About the Paired Kidney Exchange Program

The paired exchange program at the University of Maryland Medical Center is designed for patients that have a living donor that is otherwise healthy and suitable for donation but incompatible with their intended recipient. The program is an opportunity not all centers are able to offer, in part due to the complexity of the organization necessary to plan these procedures either within the institution or with other medical centers. This may require flying an organ to another part of the country or operating very early in the morning or late at night to minimize the time the organ is waiting to be transplanted.

There needs to be an institutional commitment, especially with the operating room, to provide space for these multiple transplants and/or odd timing for an operation. We set high expectations for this transplant program, eliminate barriers for patients, and open the door for many to receive the Gift of Life.

This program has brought great energy to the UMMC Transplant Division. We're seeing patients who, either because of blood type incompatibility or high levels of antibodies to their donor, are now finding matches after long years of waiting. We're seeing their intended donors (most of them close family members) excited about the chance to not only see their loved one free from dialysis, but also to help another person in need. The 'trickle down' effect is a miracle itself. Patients are now coming with potential donors for the PKE program that they never considered because of previous knowledge of blood type incompatibility. Everyone is now an 'opportunity' for one another.

Our standards of evaluation and safety of living donation are the highest in the country. We place great value on the trust of the donor and the recipient and their families. We believe our standards must be even higher for donors in the PKE program, as they most often have never met the intended recipient of their donated kidney. Ethically, while we maintain the privacy of all those involved in the exchange, we still demand the informed consent of all donors and recipients and answer all questions until it is clear and understandable.

We continue to look for new and better answers for patients seeking to avoid the effects of end-stage renal disease.We can no longer look at incompatibility with a living donor as an excuse to deny kidney disease patients the Gift of Life. Paired kidney exchanges will become the standard of care across major transplant centers and will be a regular activity here at the University of Maryland, where we are committed to doing all we can to advance the state of the art in kidney transplantation for our patients.

For more information about our PKE program, please contact our Transplant office at 410-328-5408.

This page was last updated: September 23, 2014

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