UW Health Transplant Center performed most paired kidney exchanges nationwide in 2020

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 8:59 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The UW Health Transplant Center performed more paired kidney exchanges in 2020 than any other transplant center in the entire country, the health system announced Wednesday.

According to UW Health, the center was able to facilitate 64 paired kidney exchanges last year. This is the first time the health system has led the nation in this option since the first paired kidney exchange was performed in 2000 in the U.S.

A paired kidney exchange is a transplant option for people who have a living donor who is medically able, but cannot donate a kidney to them because of either their blood type or an antibody incompatibility. That donor would then swap kidneys with other donor-recipient pairs, while the recipient would also receive a new kidney.

This system allows for improved matching between more donors and recipients.

Dr. Dixon Kaufman, medical director of the UW Health Transplant Center, spoke highly of the staff at the center, saying the work they do provides patients with a better life.

“The fact that we were able to facilitate so many paired kidney exchanges, despite having to temporarily close our living donation program twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, speaks volumes about the commitment of this entire transplant team, particularly the surgical, medical and nursing leaders and their staff,” said Dr. Kaufman.

Paired kidney exchanges also improve the overall transplant quality, according to a 2019 study cited by UW Health, which notes that this process leads to fewer transplanted kidneys. The system also reduces waiting times for patients in need of a kidney.

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