Experts Call for National Online Registry To Help Match Kidney Donors


Last week, experts at a conference on kidney transplantation in Herndon, Va., called for the creation of a single nationwide online registry to help facilitate the matching process for paired kidney donations, domino chains and other types of donor exchanges, the New York Times reports.

Paired Donations and Domino Chains

Paired donations were introduced in the U.S. in 2000. They allow renal patients with a willing kidney donor who does not match their antibodies or blood type to exchange organs with another patient-donor pair in a similar situation. Domino chains involve a series of paired donations.

Currently, several national and regional registries -- as well as one government pilot program -- contain information to help arrange paired kidney donations and domino chains. In addition, some hospitals organize independently organize donor exchanges among their patients.

Experts Call for Single Registry

Of the 16,812 kidney transplants that occurred in the U.S. last year, 429 involved exchanges with living donors. Experts say that number could rise to several thousand per year if:

  • All potential kidney donors were listed in a single nationwide online registry;
  • More hospitals participated in donor exchanges;
  • Paired donations were better understood; and
  • Practices for kidney donor exchanges were standardized.

Sommer Gentry -- a Naval Academy mathematician who led one of the committees at last week's conference -- said, "We should eliminate the barriers to a national registry," adding, "With two pools of 100, you get fewer opportunities than with one pool of 200."

Some Experts Voice Concerns

However, some attendees expressed concern that a single national registry would slow innovation.

Sandy Feng -- a University of California-San Francisco transplant surgeon who organized the conference -- said, "Maybe we can have different operations with common allocation methods and principles." Feng added, "A national registry may be where we need to be when the field is more mature, but maybe we don't need to do that right now" (Sack, New York Times, 3/31).

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