Healthcare Blog

Methodist Specialty And Transplant Hospital Reaches National Milestone With 50th Paired Kidney Exchange Transplant

August 30, 2017

Fifty individuals who had lost hope of ever having the kidney transplants that would save their lives have reason to celebrate today as Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital announced a national transplant milestone - its 50th paired kidney exchange transplant.

This unprecedented number of exchange transplants at a single center makes the San Antonio program the busiest paired exchange transplant program in the country. According to recent research into paired transplants, only a few transplant centers in the U.S. have performed a significant number of these procedures.

This innovative program identifies living donors who wish to donate their kidney to a loved one but cannot because of blood or tissue incompatibility. Incompatible pairs are matched with other incompatible pairs, and the donors are exchanged, providing kidney patients with a transplant from a matched donor and a second chance at life. The Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital team performed the first exchange in March 2008 and completed the 50th procedure just 19 months later, with 42 of the exchange transplants performed in the past 10 months.

"The success of our program has broad national implications," explained transplant surgeon Francis Wright, M.D., Director of the Solid Organ Transplant Program. "It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 people currently on the national kidney transplant waiting list with donors who want to donate a kidney but cannot since they are not a match."

The patients involved in the 50 exchange operations range in age from their early 20s to their late 70s and are ethnically diverse. Most are from Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. A 53-year-old man who had been on dialysis for 12 years, unable to find a match due to high levels of antibodies in his blood, was transplanted with an exchange operation in just four months. A young woman drove from Alabama with two incompatible donors; she received a transplant less than six months later.

"Patients needing kidney transplants and having incompatible donors no longer have to take 'no' for an answer. We can offer them hope. We are turning 'no' into 'yes' for many patients who have a willing, but incompatible, donor," said transplant surgeon Adam Bingaman, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Paired Exchange Program.

Bingaman and a team of medical professionals manage a large database that contains more than 200 people in need of a kidney and 300 potential donors. Comprehensive analysis of such a large database has allowed each of the exchange transplant recipients to receive a kidney from a donor who was a complete match, reducing post-transplant complications and making it unnecessary to utilize high risk therapies.

More than 85,000 people are on the national kidney transplant waiting list. Approximately 4,500 Americans die every year while on the waiting list. For more information about incompatible kidney donor matching, call 1-800-888-0420 or visit texastransplant.

Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital