New: Kidney Transplant from Any Donor
A new study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, reports that doctors have successfully altered patients’ immune systems to allow them to accept kidneys from incompatible donors. Eight years after the procedures were done, significantly more of those patients were still alive than patients who had remained on waiting lists or received a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor.
Researchers estimate about half of the 100,000 people in the U.S. on waiting lists for a kidney transplant have antibodies that will attack a transplanted organ, and about 20% are so sensitive that finding a compatible organ is all but impossible.
The new method is known as desensitization, and it could dramatically reduce the wait times for thousands of people -- and for some it could mean the difference between receiving a transplant and spending the rest of their lives on dialysis.
The researchers point out that desensitization takes time -- for some patients as long as 2 weeks -- and is performed before the transplant operation, so patients must have a living donor.