The following is a reprinted, edited version of information compiled and created by the National Kidney Foundation.
Sometimes a loved one may want to donate a kidney but their blood type is incompatible. Some transplant centers will help incompatible pairs of recipient/donors through a process called paired exchange, which involves two or more living donors and two or more recipients.
If the recipient from one pair is compatible with the donor from the other pair, and vice versa, the transplant center may arrange for two (or more) simultaneous transplants to take place. This allows two transplant candidates to receive organs and two donors to give organs even though the original recipient/donor pairs were unable to do so with each other.
In paired exchange, an incompatible donor/ recipient pair (such as a mother and son that don’t t have compatible blood types) are matched with another incompatible donor/recipient pair for a match.
It is estimated that paired kidney donation will one day allow for an additional 3,000 living donor renal transplants per year in America by greatly increasing the number of living kidney donors.
The average living donor kidney functions for 15.5 years, while a deceased donor kidney typically lasts only half as long. Of all the advances made in renal transplantation in the last 25 years, paired donation has the greatest potential to extend the lives of patients with kidney disease.