New kidney transplant procedure allows kidney from any donor

Physicians can alter immune systems in patients, allowing their bodies to accept kidneys from incompatible donors. The benefits of the treatment have been highlighted in a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and covered by the New York Times.

The method is called desensitization and involves filtering antibodies out of a patient's blood. Then, the individual is infused with new antibodies to bolster their immune system while it regenerates new antibodies that are less likely to attack a transplanted organ.

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For the study, researchers examined the survival rates of 1,025 patients from 22 different medical centers. Rates were examined from groups receiving kidneys from incompatible live donors, those who received an organ from a deceased donor or remained on the waiting list and patients who stayed on the waiting list and received no transplant.

After eight years, 76.5 percent of patients who received an incompatible kidney after going through desensitization were still alive, compared with 62.9 percent who remained on the waiting list or received a deceased donor kidney and 43.9 percent who remained on the waiting list but never received a transplant.

Jeffery Berns, MD, president of the National Kidney Foundation, told the Times that desensitization "has the potential to save many lives." Researchers approximate about half of the 100,000 people in the U.S. on waiting lists for a kidney transplant have antibodies that will attack a transplanted organ.

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