Have you ever heard of a paired exchange? It may also be known as a kidney swap. The whole process is fairly easy to understand and allows patients to receive a kidney transplant within a year instead of waiting the traditional 2 to 4 years.
First of all, the patient in need of a new kidney should have a family member or somebody willing to give his organ directly to him.
It is called a living donor. A perfect match would be the best case scenario and they will be able to go ahead with the kidney transplantation. Before 2008, if there was no match, that was it, no transplant. Now, there is more hope. The potential kidney donor and the patient, providing everybody consents, will be put on a national list for a kidney swap.
The objective is to pair the patient and his donor with another patient and donor in the same situation. This is what a kidney swap is all about. The end result is the same: both patients get a new kidney and both donors gave one. This process opens more doors and allows more transplantations to take place because otherwise nothing would have happened without a match.
Sometimes it takes more than 2 donors to make it happen. In other times it takes a much bigger chain. The record in the US was a chain of 23 kidney transplants involving 46 people happening over a period of 2 months. I cannot imagine all the coordination needed in order to make it happen. People were scattered everywhere in the country. From California to New York along with Washington (state) and Texas among the states involved.
The organism in charge of facilitating those paired exchange is the National Kidney Registry. They have helped arranged over 270 kidney transplants since 1998. They average wait time is only 11 months compared to the 51 months for the traditional deceased donor wait list. There may be a transplant center near you that is part of this process. A total of 54 transplants centers participate in this living donor program.