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Survival Benefit for Kidneys From Incompatible Living Donors

Compared no transplantation and transplants from deceased donors

kidney illustration

THURSDAY, March 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- In what researchers are calling a possible "paradigm shift," a new study shows kidney disease patients may live longer if they receive a transplant from an incompatible living donor rather than wait for a good match. The research was published in the March 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dorry Segev, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues followed 1,025 sensitized patients who received a kidney from an incompatible donor at one of 22 transplant centers in the United States. They compared the patients' survival with that of two control groups: 5,125 patients on the transplant waiting list who eventually received a kidney; and 5,125 of wait-list patients who had to remain on dialysis.

After eight years, 76.5 percent of the incompatible-donor patients were still alive. That compared with 43.9 percent of dialysis patients and 62.9 percent of those who ultimately received a deceased-donor organ.

The desensitization process, including immunosuppressant medication, also adds about $20,000 to $30,000 to the cost of getting a transplant, according to the University of Wisconsin's transplant center, one of the U.S. programs that performs the procedure. But it's still far cheaper than dialysis in the long run, Segev said in a news release from Johns Hopkins.

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