A multi-city kidney swap surgery in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver was conducted simultaneously as four patients suffering from severe kidney failure received new kidneys.
"It's been challenging," said Dr. Edward Cole, chair of the National Living Donor Kidney Exchange Program. "This is a real success story of people collaborating across the country, and with important input from Canadian Blood Services."
Kidney swaps are basically based on the idea of group co-operation in which a donor whose kidney is not compatible with a loved one agrees to donate to a stranger, who also needs a new kidney. The first relative receives a new compatible kidney from another stranger in exchange.
Three donors in this surgery had offered to donate a kidney to a loved one, but were not a match. The fourth donor was an anonymous one. "This is an individual who came forward to donate not to someone they actually know on the waiting list, but had heard about the long waiting lists and the difficulty of living on dialysis," said Dr. Sandra Cockfield, medical director of the renal transplant program at the University of Alberta.
In this case, all donors were put under general anesthesia and the surgery was only started when doctors said they were ready to begin on the recipients.