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Ohio State's Groundbreaking Six-Way Paired Kidney Exchange

Paired kidney exchange can also involve multiple donors and recipients. In September 2011, surgeons at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center completed a six-way, single-institution transplant, the first and largest to-date in Ohio, and one of only a handful that have taken place in the United States.

This synchronized chain of six kidney transplants resulted in an ideal match for three women and three men. The swap of kidneys between the 12 patients required two days to complete (due to the size of the chain) and more than two months to orchestrate. The recipients involved in this chain of transplants earlier had faced uncertainty in their quest for the surgeries due to medical incompatibilities between them and their originally intended donors.

The chain of transplants began with a non-directed or altruistic donor who stepped forward to donate a kidney to a recipient who was part of one of the incompatible pairs. That recipient’s intended donor then provided a kidney to the recipient in the second pair, and the exchanges continued through to the sixth recipient. The sixth recipient did not have an intended donor and had been waiting for a deceased donor kidney to become available.

Transplant surgeon Ronald Pelletier, MD, who led the series of transplants, says The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and other transplant centers around the country constantly look for ways to maximize the limited pool of donors.

“This extraordinary effort by staff at our Medical Center demonstrates the power of the altruistic donor selflessness and the collective good of organ donation and transplantation,” adds Dr. Robert Higgins, director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center.

Click here to view the official Press Release.

On April 19, 2012, donors and recipients of the 6-way paired kidney exchange reunited for the NBC 4 organ donation special, “Your Gift, Their Hope”. Click Here to view the video segment as they share their experience.

For more information about living kidney donation, view our living donor brochure at http://go.osu.edu/LivingDonorBrochure or contact our Comprehensive Transplant Center at 614-293-6724 or 800-293-8965. You can also email us at livingkidneydonorprogram@osumc.edu.