Kidneys on the Move

Transported kidneys for transplant are safe and effective

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Johns Hopkins researchers have found that kidneys shipped on ice for transplant are just as safe and effective as kidneys that come from donors in the same hospital where the transplant operation takes place.

These findings, which are published in the American Journal of Transplantation, strengthens support for the practice of kidney paired donations, a system developed by Johns Hopkins researchers.

Kidney paired donations help family members who want to donate a kidney to their sick loved ones but cannot because they are incompatible. Through this practice, incompatible donors are matched with other incompatible pairings so that each willing donor gives a kidney on behalf of their sick family member. As such, both patients receive a kidney from a compatible and willing donor.

According to Donate Life America, 91 percent of adults are in favor of the idea of organ, eye, and tissue donation. However, only one third of adults is informed of the proper steps to become a registered donor.

As the number of people awaiting kidneys continues to soar, any method for increasing the amount of donors is welcome. As of March 16, 2010, approximately 83,950 individuals were awaiting transplants. Between 2005 and 2007, an average of merely 17,670 kidney transplants were performed. The averge cost of a kidney transplant operation is $260,000.

Until recently, hospitals and surgeons required all participants of a kidney transplant surgery to be in the same hospital for the operation. This could be difficult for donors and recipients alike because of the emotional costs of being separated from a support network in addition to the economic costs of travel.

The results of this recent study contribute to the viability of expanding the practice of kidney paired donations. Led by Dorry L. Segev, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, researchers evaluated the transport and transplantation of 56 live-donor kidneys. All of the kidneys - some of which travelled as far as 2,570 miles - survived the transport process to become working organs in their recipients.

According to Segev, the study's results show that kidneys that are shipped for transplant are equally as effective as those kidneys that come from donors in a nearby operating room in the same hospital. Consequently, he believes that the need for shipping kidneys will become greater as the nation transplant system continues to grow.

Please visit to learn more about how to become an organ donor.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 20, 2011
Last Updated:
January 20, 2011