KU Hospital completes 10-person kidney donation chain

Posted on Feb 2, 2018 in Campus News and News

KU Hospital completes 10-person kidney donation chain. The kidney chain is the longest ever completed in the region.

Over a two-day period packed with 10 surgeries at the University of Kansas Health System, five patients received a replacement kidney—thanks to a 10-person kidney donor transplant chain, the longest of its kind in the Kansas City area.

Kidney chains begin when a patient has a willing donor, but blood type or other complications prevent a match. The patient and donor are then listed in a national registry, while the hospital searches for other pairs in similar circumstances to see whether the first pair’s donor has a kidney that matches a different pair’s patient. If so, the two donors give their kidneys to the opposite patient.

Regional milestone for kidney chain

While four-person kidney chains are relatively common, said Dr. Diane Cibrik, professor and medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program, “every time you add another person to the chain, it adds more planning. That’s why this region has never seen a 10-person chain before. Now that we have done a 10-patient chain, we feel we can work together to build larger chains, including some chains that go on for years.”

This chain began when a donor who didn’t match with a friend gave his kidney to the hospital for another recipient.

“While our transplant team has the confidence to do what it takes to benefit our patients, none of this would have been possible without the selfless actions of the organ donors,” said Dr. Sean Kumer, associate professor of surgery and vice president of operative services. “It takes that first anonymous donor willing to donate a kidney to someone they don’t know—and may never meet—to get the chain started.”

Amna Ilahe, who directs the hospital’s living donor program, stressed the safety of living donation, thanks to rigorous testing of potential donors. As for the results, “living donation is a simple act that will make a big difference,” she said. “It can change a recipient’s quality and quantity of life.”

To learn more about donation, visit the University of Kansas Health System’s website. Watch the video below to hear from some of the donors, recipients and doctors who made the kidney chain possible.

-Ryan Camenzind

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