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Kidney Donor Matching

In many cases, people choose to donate a kidney to help a family member or friend with kidney failure. Our kidney transplant specialists use the latest research to match more living donors with their intended recipients.

Not all donors will be a suitable match for the recipient of their choice. In those cases, the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center explores multiple resources to match living donors with suitable transplant recipients.

A Comprehensive Approach to Kidney Donor Matching

Our highly trained transplant team offers multiple opportunities to match transplant recipients with a living donor, including:

  • Blood-incompatible transplants
  • National paired-kidney exchange programs
  • Internal paired-kidney exchange programs

Blood-type-incompatible transplants

Transplantation is generally performed when a donor and recipient have a matching blood type. However, blood-type-incompatible transplants (also called ABO-incompatible kidney transplants) allow patients to receive a kidney from a living donor with a different blood type.

Potential recipients undergo a “desensitization” procedure before the transplant. This combination of medications and plasmapheresis treatments (where we replace the plasma in their blood with new plasma through a process similar to dialysis) helps transplants succeed despite the incompatible blood types.

Our ABO-incompatible transplants are extremely successful, with identical outcomes to living kidney transplants where donor and recipient have the same blood type. Learn more about incompatible donor kidney transplant.

National paired-kidney exchange programs

We are enrolled in numerous national paired-kidney exchange programs. We use these programs to search for compatible matches for our donor-recipient pairs who are tissue-match incompatible. This novel approach allows patients with kidney failure who have eligible but tissue-match unsuitable donors to exchange donor kidneys. We also provide the opportunity for compatible pairs to enroll in our exchange program in order to find a better match.

In a “kidney exchange,” as in other kidney transplants, a donor gives a kidney and a patient receives a transplant. The only difference is that the donor gives to a different person than he or she may have originally expected to donate. Learn more about paired donor kidney transplant.

Internal paired-kidney exchange program

Barnes-Jewish has also developed an internal paired-kidney exchange program, where we enter our unmatched donors and recipients into our own internal database. This approach allows us to make more donor-recipient connections. Also, we can often avoid having to send a donor or recipient kidney, leading to faster transplants and more successful outcomes.

A transplant physician or living-kidney coordinator can discuss these donation options with you in more detail.

Contact Us

For more information about the living donor kidney program at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, call 855.925.0631.