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Kidney Allocation

April 4, 2014

New guidelines could maximize transplant success by better matching donated kidneys with recipients.



New guidelines for donated kidneys. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There are far more desperately ill people who need kidney transplants than there are available kidneys, and rules for allocating the organs haven’t changed in decades. Transplant nephrologist John Friedewald at Northwestern Medical Center helped draft new guidelines going into effect this year. He says a key change is longevity matching: pairing patients likely to live the longest with kidneys that will last the longest.

JOHN FRIEDEWALD (Northwestern Medical Center):

We estimate we’ll get an additional 8,000 life years lived from each year’s worth of donated organs. A life year lived with transplant is someone who’s alive with a functioning transplant.


Another change is giving priority to people who have been on dialysis the longest. Friedewald says that new technologies like growing replacement organs may eventually be possible, but until then, the key is to carefully manage this precious resource. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.