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kidney exchange connects strangers through life-saving donations

Transplant Center

Paired Donation

Kidney paired donation is a new approach for offering living donor kidney transplant s to recipients who are incompatible with their recipient or the pair has better match options with another pair in the program.

Paired exchange donation consists of two or more kidney donor/recipient pairs. The recipients trade donors so that each recipient can receive a kidney that best matches them. Once all donors and recipients have been tested, the kidney transplant surgeries can be scheduled to occur simultaneously.

There are 2 types of paired donation programs:

  • Incompatible Paired Donation Program - Recipients may have a willing living donor that cannot donate because they are not a match due to incompatible blood types or due to the recipient antibodies. A recipient/donor pair that is willing to participate in this program would be placed in a database to potentially find another recipient/donor pair that could be a compatible match for each other. (Figure 1)
  • Compatible Paired Donation Program: Another type of exchange program involves exchanging recipient/donor pairs that are “compatible,” meaning they are not sensitized and have compatible blood types. Research has shown that the age of the donor kidney is a strong predictor of long term kidney function. This Kidney Paired Donor Exchange Program offers patients with older compatible kidney donors the opportunity to exchange donors with recipients that have a younger donor who is not compatible with them (Figure 2)

figure 1

Figure 1:
In paired exchange, a donor/ recipient pair (such as a mother and son that don't have compatible blood types) are matched with another donor/recipient pair(s) for a "swap". Each donor gives a kidney to the other person's intended recipient.

figure 2

Figure 2:
In this example, a recipient has a chance to receive a kidney from a younger donor while the other recipient with an incompatible donor is able to receive a living donor kidney transplant from a compatible donor.

The number of paired donation transplant has increased exponentially, from 2 in 2000 to 429 in 2011 (see Figure 3.5). With the development of donor chain transplants, and with a national system for paired donation, the number will hopefully continue to grow.

figure 3

The University of Utah Kidney Transplant Program has developed a Paired Donation Program (in cooperation with location and national registries) allowing a recipient-donor pairs to exchange kidneys with other pairs.

If you are interested in being a paired donor, please contact our Living Donor Coordinator at (801-585-3202) regarding the Paired Donation Program.

If you would like to know more information about the Paired Donation Program, please visit the following website: