New and innovative programs to obtain donor organs have the potential to revolutionize kidney transplantation. At UCLA, for example, transplant experts are studying a program they call "living donor swap." This program enables the relative or friend of a kidney-transplant patient who is not compatible as a donor to "swap" organs with another potential donor who also may be an incompatible match for his or her relative or friend. This greatly broadens the pool of organs available from living donors.
"Swapping organs makes sense in such cases," says Albin Gritsch, M.D., UCLA urologist.
In the case of a "living donor swap," both transplants are done simultaneously, Dr. Gritsch explains. Advances in living-donor-transplant technology make the surgery less invasive and the pain easier to manage.
UCLA has been among the pioneers in the field of kidney transplantation, and consistently ranks among the top five centers nationally. Currently, about two-thirds of kidney transplants are performed with organs taken from deceased donors, explains UCLA nephrologist Alan Wilkinson, M.D., and the wait can often be as long as five years, making living-donor transplantation an attractive alternative. Living donors, often family or friends of the transplant patient, currently account for about one third of cases.
The door to increasing living-donor transplantation also has been opened wider with pioneering surgical techniques, including laparoscopic harvesting of donor kidneys, which results in less pain and a quicker recovery, notes Gabriel Danovitch, M.D., director of Kidney and Kidney/Pancreas Transplantation at UCLA.
To view a video about an actual living donor kidney transplant, go to http://streaming.uclahealth.org/kidney.
SOURCE University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences.