New rules for kidney allocations

SF Gate | Victoria Colliver
Shonda Jones-Nash (left) checks on Jonathan Mack, who might benefit from an overhaul of the transplant waiting-list system. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

When it comes to kidney transplants, it will soon no longer be first come, first served.

New rules, which go into place this year, will change the way kidneys from deceased donors are allocated across the country and hopefully balance out wait times for those who need one and improve their long-term survival.

Currently, a young kidney might go to someone with a very short life expectancy. If a kidney is found for someone who has antibodies that make finding a match extremely difficult, it may not matter. Someone else higher on the list will get the kidney, even someone without those complicating factors.

Someone in need of a transplant may get a kidney sooner or later, depending on the region where the patient lives.

"Right now it's just a hodgepodge," said Dr. William Bry, surgical director of the kidney transplant program at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. "There's nothing to prevent a perfect kidney from a 16-year-old from going into a 78-year-old person with diabetes and heart disease."
"You have the power to SAVE lives." 
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