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Costs impede growth of paired kidney exchanges

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 25, 2013

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Nearly 1,100 more kidney transplants could be done each year if all transplant centers performed paired kidney exchanges at the same rate as the top 10% of centers, said a study published online March 6 in the American Journal of Transplantation.

The transplant technique matches one incompatible donor-recipient pair to another pair to enable an exchange, and sometimes these multiply in donor chains that involve a dozen or more people.

But, the study said, financial barriers stop many transplant centers from doing more kidney exchanges, which require the resources to coordinate matches, work out logistics at different centers and quickly send organs across long distances.

Transplant centers often go unpaid for the added costs of organizing such kidney exchanges. The number of kidney exchanges grew from 93 in 2006 to 553 in 2010, but there has been “an unfortunate stall in dissemination” of the transplant method since then, said the study (link).

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