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Less-Than-Perfect Kidneys Can Still Save Lives

Double transplants using sub-optimal organs may ease kidney shortage, experts say

FRIDAY, March 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Transplanting two kidneys with limited function, instead of a single kidney with full function, may be one way to ease the shortage of donated kidneys in the United States, new research suggests.

"Performing double transplants using kidneys that would otherwise be discarded may be one viable solution to the growing shortage of organs for transplantation," study co-author Dr. Robert Stratta, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

During a 45-month study, Stratta and his colleagues conducted double kidney transplants on 19 patients. Other transplant centers had refused the donor kidneys because they had marginal filtering capacity -- either they were too small (from children) or were from older adults who had started to lose some kidney function.

"Patients who received double kidney transplants had similar short-term outcomes to patients who received single transplants," Stratta said. "In our short-term follow-up, we found that we could achieve excellent patient survival and kidney function using marginal kidneys if they are both transplanted into a single recipient."

Patient survival reached 100 percent during 20 months of follow-up for those who received adult kidneys and over 10 months for those who received children's kidneys. Kidney survival rates were 87 percent and 100 percent, respectively.

The study was to be presented Friday at a meeting of the Central Surgical Association in Louisville, Ky.

The key to success in this kind of double kidney transplant is selecting patients with a lower risk of rejection and matching the estimated function of the kidneys to the needs of the recipient, Stratta said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about kidney transplantation.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, March 10, 2006
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