The search to find a compatible kidney donor is often a long and agonizing one – a complex series of biological matches need to be met to reduce the risk of the new organ being rejected, which means most kidney transplants have to come from blood relatives. Now a pioneering new technique is being tested that could allow those needing a transplant to receive a kidney from any donor.
Experts are calling the new procedure revolutionary, reports The New York Times, and it could have a huge impact on the waiting times for a suitable kidney. It works by altering a patient’s immune system – essentially rebooting its network of antibodies to make them less likely to reject a new organ. It’s not yet clear why, but the regenerated antibodies that appear after the originals have been filtered out are much more amenable to receiving a new kidney through a transplant.
The process, known as desensitization, has been used by doctors on a small scale for several years, but the new report published this week is the first to take a broad look at how effective it really is.
Based on data from over 2,000 patients at 22 health clinics, 76.5 percent of the desensitized patients who were given an ‘incompatible’ kidney were still living after eight years – a more positive result than the 62.9 percent of the control group who were still on the waiting list or who received a deceased donor kidney rather than a living one.