Pittsburg Post-Gazette | Kevin Sacks - New York Times
But after a two-day conference that ended here on Friday, there was little consensus on how, when, or even whether the fragmented young field should unify.
Kidney paired donation, which was first attempted in the United States in 2000, makes transplants possible for renal patients who have a willing donor but who do not match that donor's blood type or antibodies. Instead of giving a kidney directly to a loved one, the donor essentially swaps an organ with a stranger who also has a willing but incompatible donor.
In another iteration, called a domino chain, a good Samaritan donor gives to a stranger, whose paired donor then gives to another stranger, and so on.
In December, the National Kidney Registry, one of the several nonprofit groups that arrange such swaps, completed a record chain of 30 successful transplants, performed over four months at 17 hospitals.
Nephrologists and transplant experts are hopeful that paired donation might chip away at the waiting list for kidneys from deceased donors, which on Friday stood at 91,681. But of 16,812 kidney transplants in 2011, only 429 were through paired exchanges with living donors.