That kidney transplant domino chains have the potential to save a large number of lives has been proved with Chain 124 saving 30 lives in under 6 months. The uniqueness of Chain 124 was that, willing donors donated their organ to strangers in exchange for an immunologically compatible organ for their loved ones. The chain began with Rick Ruzzamenti in California and came to an end with Don Terry in Illinois.
Kidney Transplants: Quirk of Evolution
Even though humans need only one kidney for filtering out waste and excreting accumulated fluid from the body, we have two kidneys. Nevertheless, when kidney failure occurs, both of them tend to deteriorate together, irrespective of the causes. Luckily, for us humans, medical science has made it possible to transplant one kidney from a healthy individual into a person who may die without one.
Even though other organs and living tissue are also transplanted, like slices of liver, intestine, lung etc. Kidney transplants are special since donors have a spare one and these operations have highest rate of success among transplants.
Live Kidney Donations
Kidneys can be transplanted from cadavers but those from living donors are coveted since they last longer. 60% of kidneys from living donors are viable even after 10 years compared to 43% of those from deceased donors.
However, the task is more difficult than comprehended since, even if there are willing donors, kidney has to be immunologically compatible to be accepted by recipient’s body. There can also be cases where due to previous transplants, pregnancies, or blood transfusion, the recipient’s body develops antibodies and rejects the new kidney. There are techniques like plasmapheresis where blood is filtered that can be used but these are expensive.
Evolution of Domino Transplant Chains
- First live kidney was transplanted in the year 1954 in Boston.
- Felix T. Rapaport from Stony Brook University theorized about kidney swaps in a journal in 1986.
- Korean surgeons completed first kidney exchange in 1991.
- In 2005 at Johns Hopkins that domino chains of kidney transplants were first tried out.
- Dr. Michael A. Rees from University of Toledo Medical Center strung together a domino chain of 10 transplants in 2009.
- 2010 saw almost 429 transplants through paired exchanges, chains etc.
Mr. Garet Hil, founder of National Kidney Registry, was fascinated with Dr. Michael’s idea and built an algorithm that could sting together 200 to 400 donor-patient pairs.
Thus was born Chain 124, the longest ever kidney transplant chain that brought together 60 people and saved 30 lives in 17 hospitals across the nation.
Domino chain transplants may be the answer to the long wait for compatible kidneys provided a common nationwide pool of donors and recipients can be organized. Not only would this be able to save lives, such transplants would save money as well. The Medicare program saves about $500,000 – $1 million when one patient is taken off dialysis through live kidney transplant!
- Garet Hil’s National Kidney Registry Facilitates Longest Kidney Transplant Chain – CHAIN 124
- Sixty Lives Linked Through Kidney Transplant Chain
- Rick Ruzzamenti’s Donation of Kidney to Stranger Sets Off The Worlds’ Longest Kidney Transplant Chain
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