Volume 3, Number 12 - August 17, 2001
Initiative May Shorten Wait For Kidney Transplant


     Candidates for kidney transplants in UNOS Region 1 may find a shorter wait for their operation. A new incentive program was started for people with family members in need of a kidney. UNOS approved the program in February after nine months of review. 

   The program, known as Hope Through Sharing, allows a person waiting for a kidney transplant to take a higher priority on the list when a relative makes a living donation to another waiting recipient. 

   If a living donor is not blood compatible with a relative awaiting transplant, but is willing to donate, then the donor could give to a matched person on the waiting list. The relative, in turn, would move to that person's position.

   While the program gives an advantage to people on the waiting list that know willing donors, everyone benefits in the end. The waiting list for transplants is reduced which means everyone gets closer to the option of a transplant and someone on the waiting list is given an organ by a living donor, (living donor organs outlast cadaveric organs on average).

   Of the 77,700 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant, nearly 50,000 need a kidney. The average wait nationally is two to four years; the wait is three to four years in some smaller states like Massachusetts.

   An initiative created by the Washington Regional Voluntary Living Donor Registry, a partnership between Washington Regional Transplant Consortium and seven Washington-area kidney transplant programs, made more kidneys available to patients needing transplants.

   The growing transplant waiting list prompted WRTC and the transplant centers at Children’s National Medical Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Howard University Hospital, Inova Fairfax Hospital, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center to create the registry as an innovative way to increase the supply of organs.

   The measure offers solutions to those waiting on a kidney transplant with a willing related or unrelated living donor but not one whose blood type matches theirs. The Washington Regional Voluntary Living Donor Registry offers several options:

   Paired exchange. A person may want to donate a kidney to a relative or friend, but cannot because their blood types or tissue types do not match. If another pair in the same predicament is found, an exchange may be possible.

   Living donor/cadaver exchange. If a non-matching relative or friend donates a kidney to the general waiting list pool, the relative or friend of the living donor would have priority on the waiting list for a cadaver kidney.

   Non-designated donation. This addresses the person who wants to donate a kidney to the general pool with no specific recipient in mind.
Information Provided By UNOS