Desensitization and paired donor exchange programs

What is sensitization?

The human body produces antibodies to fight infection. While useful for maintaining our general health, these antibodies can also increase the chance of rejection in a kidney transplant recipient. Most patients who develop these antibodies ('sensitized' patients) have had prior exposure to foreign human tissue in the form of a previous transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy.

What are the options for sensitized patients?

Desensitization

It is believed that more than 20,000 people currently on the kidney waiting list are sensitized. Patients who are sensitized tend to wait longer and often find it difficult, if not impossible, to get a kidney transplant either with a living donor or through the deceased donor waiting list. Desensitization, a technique using medications and a process similar to dialysis to filter out antibodies from the blood system, aims to remove the impeding antibodies to reduce the chances of rejection by the transplant recipient's body.

The Hume-Lee Transplant Center has been performing desensitization procedures for more than 10 years with an excellent track record of enhancing access to kidney transplantation. We have been able to facilitate transplantation in two-thirds of our sensitized patients, compared with a national average of successful transplantation in approximately one-third of the sensitized patient population. Research shows that these procedures are proven to prolong and improve a patient's quality of life.

Kidney paired exchange donation

In some cases, desensitization is not an option because of the volume and strength of a person's antibodies. For these patients, Hume-Lee is pleased to partner with several national kidney exchange programs, including the National Kidney Registry, Alliance for Paired Donation and the UNOS KPD program, to offer kidney paired exchange. With this program we are able to connect our patients with other kidney donor-recipient pairs across the nation to increase their chances of finding a successful kidney match.

How do I get more information?
 

The Hume-Lee team is available to discuss these options with you to determine the best course of action to increase your chances of a successful transplant and a return to good health. To learn more, call (804) 828-4104, select the option for the kidney transplant clinic and ask to speak to a living donor coordinator.