Lourdes participates in four-pair kidney swap chain

CAMDEN — On Monday, April 26 the transplant team at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center achieved a medical milestone by participating in the region’s first successful “kidney swap chain” involving four donor/recipient pairs, announced Alexander J. Hatala, president and CEO for the Lourdes Health System.

All four-donor surgeries were performed simultaneously April 26 at the participating transplant centers: Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Concord, N.H.

Once the organs were harvested they were flown by plane to the waiting recipients who received their new kidneys later in the day.

“Paired kidney exchange” offers new life-saving options to those seeking a kidney transplant, but whose potential living donor is not a good biological match due to either blood type or cross-match incompatibility. This option allows incompatible donors to help their loved ones to receive a living donor kidney by matching one incompatible donor/recipient pair with another incompatible pair.

In “kidney swap chains” a number of willing donors exchange kidneys to recipients, thus increasing the number of life-saving surgeries being performed at the same time. Living donor kidney transplants have better outcomes, less rejection and are longer-lasting, making them preferable to deceased-donor transplants.

The New England Paired Kidney Exchange (NEPKE), which maintains a registry of incompatible, but willing donor-recipient pairs, coordinated the multiple pair exchange in conjunction with the Sharing Network, New Jersey’s organ procurement organization, and the transplant coordinators at the participating hospitals.

Last September the transplant team at Lourdes performed the first successful “double swap” kidney transplant in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region involving a Williamstown couple and another from New York.

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