Match Game

Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network successfully pairs kidney-transplant patients

(RxWiki News) A Missouri and a New Hampshire resident are the first recipients of kidney transplants made possible through a pilot Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) program.

The initiative uses a Carnegie Mellon University computer algorithm to match transplant candidates with living donors. Ken Crowder of St. Louis, MO, and Kathy Niedzwiecki of Pelham, N.H., both had willing donors who proved medically incompatible. Thanks to a paired donation, however, Crowder's fiancée, Rebecca Burkes, donated her kidney to Niedzwiecki, and Niedzwiecki's sister-in-law, Cathy Richard of Henniker, N.H., donated her kidney to Crowder.

The transplants took place Dec. 6 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

The matches were the first identified using the algorithm, which is projected to increase the number of kidney paired-donation transplants using a national pool.

"Paired donation is helping the transplant community help people who otherwise could not get a living donor transplant," said Tuomas Sandholm, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon who has led the development of computer algorithms.

"As the size of the pool increases, we are confident that we can significantly boost the number of patients who are able to receive kidney transplants," said Sandholm.

The goal of the pilot project will be to see whether combining the data of multiple centers and networks will produce matches that may not be found through single organizations.

"The fact that these transplants occurred from the first match run suggests this will be true," said said Charles Alexander, OPTN president.

Future match runs will be conducted every four to five weeks.

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Review Date: 
December 15, 2010