A new study referred to as a kidney exchange has been helping many patients waiting for a transplant to receive the procedure they so critically need. Patients who were once unable to receive transplants from donors due to incompatibility may no longer have to worry about that.
For years, thousands of patients have been placed on waiting lists with little hope of finding a match due to the fact that their immune systems would reject nearly all transplanted organs.
Dr. Jeffery Berns, the President of National Kidney Foundation and a kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine has stated that this new process, known as desensitization, has the capability to save many lives in the future.
Desensitization is the process of altering a patient’s immune system to allow the patient’s body to welcome kidneys from incompatible benefactors. During this process:
- Antibodies will be filtered out of a patient’s blood
- The patient is provided with an infusion of other antibodies for protection while the immune system reconstructs its own antibodies (regenerated antibodies are unlikely to to attack a new organ).
- Should the patient’s regenerated antibodies be considered a risk to doctors, the patient will then be provided with stimulants that will eradicate the white blood cells that could possible attack the new kidney.
The procedure takes place before the actual transplant operation and may take as long as two weeks for some patients.
Kidney specialists have said that desensitization is arguably a less expensive process than most may think. Although the procedure costs $30,000 plus another $100,000 for the transplant, it has the possibility to eliminate the $70,000 per year cost of dialysis.
Desensitization is currently and will most likely be used for kidney transplants. However, the procedure might also be fitting for other transplants such as the liver and lungs should donors be incompatible.
For more information on this revolutionary study, check out this article published by the The New England Journal of Medicine .