In a previous blog, I described how Northwestern does all of their transplants “in house,” rather than participating in chains with other hospitals. I wasn’t 100% correct about that. Northwestern PREFERS to do all of their transplants in house, and to do all of the surgeries at the same time, but they do make exceptions, and it looks like they will make one with me.
Since the last chain dissolved, there has only been 1 other match that keeps popping up in Northwestern’s system who could receive my kidney based on blood type. That person has a willing donor to continue a chain, however that willing donor is AB+. Somebody who is AB+ can only donate to somebody else who is AB+, and only 3% of the population is AB+. There is nobody at Northwestern who would be a match for that AB+ person. So at this point, if Northwestern keeps it in house, I would donate to 1 person, and there would not be a chain, it would be a single donation and would not maximize the gift.
To remedy the problem, Northwestern is adding me to the KPD Pilot Program. Getting into the program required 2 more blood tests, and minimal paperwork. This program is part of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The OPTN is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). OPTN registers and tracks everyone who registers in the Pilot Program. Transplant center staff enter eligible donor and recipient medical information into UNOS’ computerized system. UNOS works with transplant centers throughout the United States to search for cases where the donor in each pair is compatible with the recipient in another pair (or multiple pairs). By exchanging donors, a compatible match for both recipients can be found.
This option allows for a larger pool of donors and recipients, and will hopefully maximize the opportunity to start a multi-person chain. My surgery will still be at Northwestern, however my kidney can potentially be flown out of state now for a match somewhere else in the country. The game changed a little, and the whole chain will not stay in house as I described before. Because this pool is larger now, it is far more likely that they will find a chain right away. The list is updated 2x/week, so by next week, there could be a new chain in place.
They wrap the kidney in bubble wrap…..