How It Works

What happens when you find someone willing to donate a kidney to you – but it isn’t a good match?  Not too long ago, that would mean the search would need to continue until a suitable match was found.  

There is, however, an emerging strategy for overcoming this hurdle. It’s called Paired Kidney Donation. In its simplest form, it involves two donor-recipient pairs who exchange donors (assuming each is a match for the other). It does not matter if they are a man or woman, just a good match for the candidate. In general it would look like this:


Using new software which takes into account many of the variables involved in a kidney transplant (blood type, HLA crossmatch, etc.), several institutions have been able to match three or more donor-recipient pairs. These matches are called “domino transplants” or "chains”. Normally they start with a non-directed donor (someone who wants to give a kidney out of the goodness of their heart without having a specific recipient in mind) and end when the last paired donor in the chain donates to an unpaired recipient on the deceased donor waiting list.




Number of kidney transplants performed in the United States. Learn More