At Hopkins, kidney transplants occur in chain reactions

The Baltimore Sun | Kevin Rector and Meredith Cohn

Photo: Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun
When John Davis' kidney began failing in January, his girlfriend's mother decided to donate one of her kidneys to help save his life. That the two weren't actually a "match" — meaning Davis' body would never accept her kidney — didn't matter.

In a groundbreaking program at Johns Hopkins Hospital that is as much about nationwide networking as it is medical innovation, kidney transplants are being arranged not through isolated pairings of patient and donor, but through longer and longer chains of individuals who don't even know each other.

Gone are the days when a donor might be discounted for not being a match with the specific patient, doctors say. Another patient in Hopkins' network might be a match, and perhaps that patient also brought a willing donor to the mix, facilitating a successive chain of matches until everyone in the chain is paired up.
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