Jefferson University Hospitals

Living Kidney Exchange

Research suggests that for patients with end-stage kidney disease, living kidney transplantation is almost always the best option.

Compared to deceased kidney donation – where the kidney that is transplanted comes from someone who recently died – the typical living kidney is likely to work more quickly after surgery and to last, on average, 50 percent longer. In fact, many experts cite the average lifespan for a deceased kidney graft at eight years but the average lifespan for a living kidney at 12 years.

Some patients who need a kidney transplant have friends or loved ones who truly wish to donate their kidneys. However, these donors may be unable to do so because of immunologic reasons. Such reasons may include blood type incompatibility or a history of prior sensitization in the potential recipient to antigens present in the potential donor.

Historically, transplantation has been able to proceed in these cases only by treating the recipient with more intense immunosuppression in order to make the kidney transplant compatible. However, immunosuppression comes with increased risk – and it can't be done in all cases.

Within the last several years, the transplantation community has addressed this obstacle by building an infrastructure that allows living kidney exchanges to take place. This infrastructure allows the incompatible donor and recipient groups to be joined with another incompatible group or groups. The result: The living donors donate their kidneys to another incompatible group and, in turn, their chosen potential recipients are transplanted from other living donors, as well.

Our Commitment to Providing a Paired Donor Network Program

Jefferson's Kidney Transplant Program recognizes that living kidney exchange is currently the best solution to the problem of incompatibility between willing living kidney donors and their potential recipients when no other living kidney donor options exist. We currently partner with three kidney paired exchange programs.