Boosting Kidney Transplants: The Power Of Applied Economics

Dr. Al Roth, an economist and Stanford University professor, and his colleagues have been instrumental in increasing the number of kidney transplants in the United States through innovative approaches. In the year 2000, there were 13,600 kidney transplants in the US, and by 2022, this number had surpassed 25,000. Despite this progress, there are still over 96,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, highlighting the ongoing demand for organs. One of the strategies implemented by Dr. Roth and his team is paired kidney exchange, which matches incompatible donor and candidate pairs with another pair, increasing the number of transplants. They have also developed non-simultaneous, extended, altruistic donor (NEAD) chains, which have proven successful in facilitating kidney exchanges.

Building on their achievements, Dr. Roth and his team, supported by Stanford Impact Labs, are expanding their work on two fronts. Firstly, they are partnering with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to study the use of deceased donor kidneys to initiate NEAD chains, potentially increasing the number of transplants for both civilians and military personnel. Secondly, they are responding to the demand for paired kidney exchange in India and Brazil, countries with restrictive rules around organ donation. By introducing similar programs in these countries, they hope to save more lives and compete with black market organ trafficking. The collaboration will also involve policymakers to establish sustainable paired kidney donation programs and improve transplant availability and success rates. Overall, these initiatives aim to address the ongoing organ shortage and deliver more transplant opportunities.

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