As mentioned in a Nov 2009 blog post, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has been working on a pilot program to conduct its own kidney exchange. The program, under development for over a year, announced in Feb 2010 that four existing kidney exchanges had been selected to participate

  • Alliance for Paired Donation, APD (Maumee, OH)
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, MD)
  • New England Program for Kidney Exchange, NEPKE (Newton, MA)
  • UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)/California Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco, CA)

On Oct 27, 2010 the UNOS conducted its first match run with a pool that contained 40 pairs from the four participating centers. It resulted in two 2-way matches and one 3-way match (total of 7 transplants) offered to the participating hospitals. One of the 2-way exchanges was accepted and resulted in two transplants that took place on Dec 9.

A second match run was conducted on Dec 8, 2010. That pool contained 62 donor-recipient pairs and resulted in  four 3-way matches (12 transplants) offered to the participating hospitals. It appears that none of the offers were accepted. The next match run is scheduled for Jan 19, 2011.

In an article in amednews Jan 2011, Alvin Roth, a Harvard economics professor and one of the founders of NEPKE says,

“It’s nice that the [UNOS program] got going in a preliminary way, but it’s got a long way to go before it’s a big exchange. They’re working now on a very small-scale. The promise of a national exchange is there will be really lots of donor-patient pairs. We have to work to make that happen; it won’t just happen automatically.”

One of the reasons that the UNOS exchange is not providing as many matches as some other kidney exchanges is because it has more stringent criteria regarding which donors and recipients may enter the pool. A future blog post will describe the major kidney exchanges and compare their entry and matching criteria.

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