Kidney swap program is successful, according to study

Researchers are reporting a high success rate for a novel kidney-swap program that proponents say could someday ease the United States' shortage of transplant organs.

Most kidney transplants use organs taken from cadavers. But doctors prefer using organs from live donors, because the success rates are higher.

In a live-donor practice used increasingly in the U.S. over the past few years, a patient who needs a kidney is matched up with a compatible stranger; in return, the patient must line up a friend or relative willing to donate an organ to a stranger, too. The practice is particularly useful in cases where a kidney patient's friends or relatives are willing to donate an organ to their loved one but are not a suitable match.

In the first U.S. success-rate study of what are called "kidney paired donations," Johns Hopkins University researchers tracked 22 patients who received kidneys from living strangers, the AP reports.

Of the 22 transplants, only one failed, because of clotting problems unrelated to organ rejection. That patient eventually received a kidney from a dead donor. Four patients also had treatable immune-system reactions. There were no deaths.

The patients were followed, on average, for 13 months, although two were followed only one month.

The success rates were comparable to other live-donor transplant rates, said study co-author Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of Johns Hopkins' Comprehensive Transplant Center. The university's kidney-swap program began in 2001. AM

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