Baylor St. Luke’s Participates in Multi-Center Living Donor Kidney Swap

Baylor St. Luke’s Participates in Multi-Center Living Donor Kidney Swap

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CHI St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) successfully completed a 13-way, multi-hospital kidney transplant swap with the National Kidney Registry (NKR). The swap began with a Good Samaritan donor at the University of California, Los Angeles on June 15, and ended last week at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

Six clusters of transplants took place over the past six weeks. Two participants (a donor and recipient) in the 13-way swap were treated at Baylor St. Luke’s. Partnering hospitals in Baylor St. Luke’s cluster included: Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA; University of California, San Francisco Medical Center in San Francisco, CA; St. Francis Medical Center in Peroria, IL and University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI.

“This is a significant achievement for Baylor St. Luke’s transplant team,” said Christine O’Mahony, MD, Kidney Transplant Surgical Director, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. “A lot of time and coordination went into making this five-way swap a success. I’m proud that we were able to play a role in giving strangers the gift of life.”

Here’s How the Swap Worked

Facilitated by NKR, the living donor swap takes a group of incompatible donor-recipient pairs (recipients coming to one of the four hospitals with a willing donor who is not compatible by blood or tissue) and matches them with other pairs in a similar predicament. By exchanging kidneys between the pairs, it is possible to give each recipient a compatible kidney. In this way, each recipient receives a kidney from a stranger, and transplants are enabled that otherwise would not have taken place. Involving multiple hospitals creates more possibilities for matches.

“With so many people waiting for so few available organs, patients can wait up to six years for a cadaver kidney transplant. Nearly 100,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list,” said Joe Sinacore, Director of Education and Development at the National Kidney Registry. “The living donor swap match program seeks to address the acute shortage of organs by enlarging the pool of living donors who want to donate a kidney to a family member or friend, but can’t due to issues such as incompatible blood types.”

Local Father and Daughter Participate in Swap Together

John Wall Jr., of Houston, received a liver transplant at Baylor St. Luke’s in 2009. Shortly after the transplant, his kidneys began to lose function. Originally, Wall underwent six months of dialysis before starting again in February 2015. His doctors informed him that he would need a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, he was not a match with his daughter, Megan Deen of Fort Worth, due to the high antibody levels in his blood. Wall’s blood had changed after the series of blood transfusions he had received over the years. Luckily for Wall and his daughter, Baylor St. Luke’s introduced them to the living donor match system through NKR and they were placed in a multi-center swap on June 29. Deen donated her kidney to a recipient in Madison, WI., while Wall received a kidney from a donor in Peroria, IL.

“I’m very thankful that the Baylor St. Luke’s transplant coordinators introduced us to the idea of the swap program after not having a positive match in our family,” said Wall. “It feels wonderful to have a new kidney. Attending dialysis three times a week ties you down. I have a sense of relief knowing that no longer have to worry about treatment and can spend more time with my family.” Wall’s daughter added, “The entire Baylor St. Luke’s team was incredibly supportive throughout the process. I not only had the opportunity to give my dad a better quality of life, but improve another person’s life as well.”

Baylor St. Luke’s has one of the most active kidney transplant programs in Texas. The program has performed over 2,100 kidney transplants and has a one year patient survival rate of 99.4 percent. Since last year, Baylor St. Luke’s has had a 44 percent increase in kidney transplants, including a 10 percent increase in living donor transplants.

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