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Kidney Exchange Program: New Options for Kidney Transplants

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The UW Health Transplant Program now partners with the National Kidney Registry (NKR), a national kidney exchange program, to offer new options for kidney transplant patients.


The program offers recipients who have an incompatible living donor the chance to enter into a paired exchange program or "kidney chain." This program extends the opportunity for a recipient to receive a living donor kidney transplant, which are timelier and have better outcomes than transplants using deceased donor kidneys.


Recipients and their incompatible donor meet with a living donor transplant coordinator to discuss the kidney exchange program. Once listed with the NKR, the registry searches for other living donor and recipient pairs.


Share This StoryIf a compatible pair is found, the donor pairs will have the opportunity to donate a kidney to a program recipient that matches their kidney, while the original intended recipient receives a kidney from another donor in the program. This exchange allows both recipients the chance to receive a living donor kidney transplant.



Mother and daughter: Recipient Carol and donor Becky participated in the kidney exchange program.


Mother and daughter: Recipient Carol and donor Becky participated in the kidney exchange program.

Additionally, non-directed (or humanitarian) donation is another option for living donors. In this situation, an approved donor without an intended recipient can choose to donate a kidney to any matching recipient. This type of donation can extend to a donor chain which works to connect compatible donors and recipients from multiple transplant centers. Just one such chain can facilitate up to 36 transplants per year.



Since joining the NKR in November 2010, the UW Health Transplant Program has facilitated multiple kidney exchanges, including directed and non-directed donors.