Living Donor Kidney Exchange
The Living Donor Kidney Exchange, available as part of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Kidney Transplant Program, provides those who need a kidney transplant with significantly improved access to potential compatible donors.
The kidney exchange is provided through the National Kidney Registry. There are no fees for recipients or donors to join the program.
Traditionally, recipients who cannot find a match with family or friends have a fairly small pool of compatible local donors. With the kidney exchange, donors and recipients from around the country can “swap” donations: a donor provides a kidney to another recipient who has an incompatible donor. Recipients also can be matched with compatible donors nationally around the country.
The kidney exchange also greatly decreases the amount of time recipients have to wait for a kidney. The average wait time for a kidney transplant facilitated through the National Kidney Registry is 11 months, compared to the U.S. average of 51 months.
Potential recipients receive a packet of information and are asked to complete a health questionnaire. Basic medical information is recorded about the patient and each potential donor. Patients must then be cleared for transplant, along with at least one living donor. During the approval process, patients first meet with a multidisciplinary committee that includes a transplant surgeon, a coordinator, social worker, dietitian and financial counselor. When patients are validated as suitable candidates for kidney exchange, the next step is medical testing.
Many people may think they are not healthy enough to donate a kidney, or that it is not within their financial means. Livings donors are carefully screened: they undergo extensive testing to ensure it is medically and psychologically safe for them to donate a kidney. Testing is designed to screen for diabetes, cancer, kidney stones, high blood pressure or any other medical or psychological concerns. As for financial concerns, the recipient’s insurance carrier pays for the donor’s evaluation, hospitalization, surgery and follow-up care. Kidney donation is safe and well-regulated.