[Note: This entry was actually written in Sep 2009. I changed the posting date to keep my blog entries in chronological order.]
A transplant coordinator at the UCLA Medical Center has called me. The hospital is a member of the National Kidney Registry and I am contacted to determine if I am a match for a kidney patient who has become sensitized to foreign tissues (often caused by blood transfusions or a previous transplant). They are searching for someone with matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type to prevent organ rejection (see my earlier post on the role of antigens in transplants). I am surprised that they called me. It is unlikely that two unrelated individuals will have matching HLA-types. The closest matches are usually siblings. Maybe the patient is Japanese (as I am), which may make me more likely to match than just a random donor.
However, UCLA-MC cannot use the HLA-type test results that I have on file with the National Kidney Registry to determine if I am a match for their patient. That’s because the results are not detailed enough to determine if I am a match. So they will mail me a blood sample kit so that they can have their lab perform the HLA-type tests and present the results in the format they can use. They also want a second blood sample to conduct a serological cross-match test between me and the recipient. This is a simple but crude HLA compatibility test. A sample of my blood is added to the sample of the recipient’s blood to see if it agglutinates. If it does, then we are not HLA-type matched.
Drawing the two blood samples will not be covered by my insurance. I decide to save some money by asking the Puget Sound Blood Center to take the samples when I come in next month for a plasma donation. The Blood Center is also an organ transplant clearinghouse, so they routinely handle these requests.
I call the Univ Washington Medical Center and cancel my appointment with them since I don’t want them to go to the expense of doing all their tests if I end up donating my kidney through UCLA.