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Paired Kidney Exchange: How Swapping Kidneys Can Save Lives

Paired Kidney Exchange: How Swapping Kidneys Can Save Lives

 Globally, almost 10% of the total population, which is 800 million people, deal with kidney diseases every year. Paired kidney exchange or kidney swap transplant is a kind of kidney transplant program that saves millions of lives every year. It is a creative transplantation technique that allows people with incompatible kidney donors to receive a compatible kidney transplant. This method consists of matching pairs of donors as well as recipients who are not compatible with each other but can swap their organs (kidneys) with another pair in a likewise situation. A better match is found by both of the recipients which increases the chances of their survival and decreases the risks of organ elimination.

A paired kidney transplant process is an important process that can remarkably enhance the quality of life and increase the lifeline of people suffering from end-stage disease or any other severe conditions related to kidneys. These methods offer patients the scope to revive their freedom, decrease their dependence on dialysis and reduce the heavy symptoms of kidney failure. Before we discuss and learn more, let us know the basics first. In this blog, we will explore how a process like paired kidney exchange or kidney paired donation can save lives miraculously. 

Kidney transplantation

The first and the foremost step of kidney transplantation starts with the need of a healthy kidney by an individual. People who face or struggle with kidney failure go through the process to achieve a renewed health status. Moreover, people with severe kidney diseases may also be the ones opting the process. The kidneys are important organs responsible for separating unwanted products and excess fluids from the blood. They help in managing the electrolyte balance and regulating the pressure in blood. When the functioning of the kidneys degrades, individuals need a healthy kidney from a donor to remove the non-functioning one and receive the functioning one. 

But finding suitable kidney donors is a complete task and challenge in itself. It is just that compatibility is a major concern. Compatibility is concluded by different factors including the type of blood, type of tissues and crossmatching method. The donor must go through the matching process of recipient’s type of blood and tissues. Crossmatching assures that the recipient’s system of immunity does not react with the donor kidney negatively. 

One of the most notable challenges in kidney transplantation is the lack of compatible donor kidneys. The number of people in need of kidney transplants is more than the people available to donate. This significant shortage of donor kidneys is leading to patients spending years or several months on dialysis while waiting for the right donor. 

Both the kinds of blood and tissue compatibility is important in concluding whether a donor kidney is suitable for the patient or not. The type of blood can be divided into four categories. Blood type A, blood type B, blood type AB and blood type O. All the blood groups are further divided into positive and negative categories. Generally, O blood group type people can have any donor worldwide. Whereas other blood group types will require a compatible match to take place. 

On the other hand, tissue compatibility has its own procedure. It involves coordination of specific proteins on the cells’ surfaces. A closer match between the donor and the recipient decreases the risk of elimination and enhances the chances of long-term graft survival. Paired kidney exchange procedures address the obstacles of finding the right donor to a huge extent. But it also increases the chances of finding the compatible matches and facilitating positive kidney transplants. 

Paired Kidney Exchange Process

The complete process of paired kidney exchange programs can be divided into three steps. The first step is the evaluation of donor and recipient. Compatibility on the basis of medical assessments is conducted to assure that the donors are healthy in all the aspects of health. Both mental and emotional aspects of the donor’s health are also considered. Understanding the risks and the overall process becomes important in this case. 

The second step is matching and coordinating the kidneys. In this step, the donor’s kidney is cross checked with the recipient’s to assure the right exchange. If a kidney is not found compatible in terms of blood type or tissues or any other factor then the process is not taken forward with the selected donor. The medical professional proceeds with another donor who is found compatible. Once the right pairs are found, surgeries are done with ease without any hassle. 

The last step of the paired kidney exchange is surgery and postoperative care. Here, the entire process takes place which means the removal of a kidney along with the addition of the new one. Highly qualified surgical teams perform these types of programs. In order to avoid any kind of complications, patients are observed from time to time. A long term follow-up care is followed along with regular and timely check-ups. This also ensures the reduction of any risks and increases the chances of a healthy life with time. 


Paired kidney exchange can seem difficult if an individual doesn’t know much about it. But with the right knowledge, it can save his or her life in no time. The program can connect different people with the right individuals and give a renewed life with lots of hope.

Dr. Dinesh Bansal
Renal Care
Meet The Doctor
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