Although deceased donation is the type most people are familiar with, it is also possible for a healthy living person to donate a kidney – living kidney donation. This involves a surgery to remove a kidney from the living donor and then to transplant it into a patient who needs a kidney – the recipient.
Kidney failure is also known as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). An individual with CKD can be treated with dialysis; a transplant from a deceased donor; or a transplant from a living donor.
Transplantation is a preferred alternative to dialysis. Unfortunately, there are not enough deceased kidney donations to help everyone who needs a kidney transplant; many patients on the wait-list will never receive one.
Any adult who is in general good health can be assessed for living kidney donation. First, a donor contacts his/her nearest hospital that has a Living Donor Kidney Transplant program. If the donor is wishing to donate to a friend or family member, medical assessments are conducted to determine whether the donor is a potential match for the recipient.
If they are a match, the donor and recipient are called a compatible pair. Additional tests will then make sure that both are medically able to undergo the surgeries. The donation and transplant surgeries are scheduled when both the donor and the recipient are in the best possible health.
If they are not a match, they are called an incompatible pair. This means that the donor’s blood type is not compatible with the recipient’s blood type or the recipient has proteins in his/her blood (known as antibodies) that will reject that donor’s kidney.
When they’re not a match, and if the pair is interested, medical tests can be done to see if they are healthy enough to participate in the Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) Registry.
Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) registry
Living Donor Paired Exchange (LDPE) is a program that provides another transplant opportunity for patients with end-stage kidney disease and potential living donors who were previously considered incompatible for donation and transplant. Paired exchange, at its simplest, is a program that registers incompatible pairs into a database with other incompatible donor/recipient pairs to hopefully create an opportunity for two recipients to receive kidneys from each other’s living donor.
A national LDPE registry provides a larger pool of donor/recipient pairs, increasing opportunities for donation/transplantation for all.
The LDPE program also identifies ‘domino’ transplant chains that facilitate two or more transplant opportunities. These chains are enabled by anonymous or altruistic donors who participate in the program without a recipient pair. To date, the majority of LDPE transplants have been part of three or more recipient chains.
- Learn more about how it works
- Power of one – the anonymous/altruistic donor
- Results to date