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Legacy Transplant Services initiative will speed living kidney donations, cut wait times

Legacy Transplant Services is the only program in Oregon to offer its recipients and donors the option of national paired donation

The Oregonian, Portland Business Journal, KEX-AM 1190, Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland

April 21, 2014

Legacy Transplant Services has joined the National Kidney Registry (NKR), the largest living kidney exchange program in the United States. By joining NKR, Legacy Transplant Services will decrease wait times for patients on the deceased donor list and increase recipients’ chances of receiving a living donor kidney, which last an average of 18 years in comparison with kidneys from deceased donors, which only last an average of 12 years.

Legacy Transplant Services is the only kidney transplant program in Oregon to offer its recipients and donors the option of national paired donation through paired exchange registries like NKR. Legacy Transplant Services has for years offered paired donation through the Alliance for Paired Donation and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s Kidney Paired Donation Pilot Program. Legacy Transplant Services has already transplanted nine recipients, five of whom were highly sensitized (or difficult to match) through these programs, and joining NKR will significantly increase these numbers.

“The wait time for a kidney in Oregon—while short compared to the rest of the country—continues to grow longer,” said William Bennett, M.D., medical director of Legacy Transplant
Services and transplant nephrologist. “Receiving a kidney from a living donor is the best option for transplant recipients and because of this, Legacy Transplant Services is working hard to transform into a primarily living donor transplant program. Joining the National Kidney Registry will significantly bolster this effort.”

About Paired Donation

Paired donation exchanges create more living donor kidney transplants, which generally work better and last longer than deceased donor transplants. Additionally, they help remove recipient candidates from the deceased donor kidney waiting list and move other people on the list up. The deceased donor kidney waiting list is now over 100,000 people, and patients in Oregon typically wait two to three years to receive a kidney. Having a living donor can minimize this wait.

Patients who need a kidney transplant often have a family member or friend who is willing to donate but turns out to be incompatible. Paired Kidney Transplants, or kidney chains, are a nationwide effort to address this discrepancy and maximize the number of live kidney donations.

Specifically, paired donation matches an incompatible living donor-recipient pair with another incompatible living donor-recipient pair to find compatible matches and ensure every recipient who has a willing but incompatible living kidney donor can receive a living donor kidney. Paired donation chains are frequently started by anonymous altruistic donors who donate to a stranger, and the incompatible donor who entered the registry with that recipient “pays forward” the kidney to another paired recipient, creating a chain of donations and transplants.

About the National Kidney Registry

Founded in 2007, the National Kidney Registry is the nation’s leader in facilitating kidney paired exchange chains or swaps. The NKR uses software they created to effectively match incompatible donor-recipient pairs in a database with other donors and recipients who have incompatible partners. NKR has facilitated over 1000 living donor kidney transplants across the United States, including swaps with 56 and 60 participants.

Additional Efforts to Promote Living Donation

In addition to joining NKR, Legacy Transplant Services recently launched an online donor registration portal where people interested in donation can easily and confidentially submit health information and request more information about living donation. Legacy Transplant Services has also updated its donor education video and created a guide for transplant recipient candidates to share their stories in the hopes of finding a potential living donor.

Click here to read The Oregonian's story:

Click here to read the Portland Business Journal's story: 

Click here to read Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland's post: