What types of kidney transplants are there?

There are two types of kidney transplants -- living donor and deceased donor transplants. In this video, Ronald Martin, RN, with the transplant services team at Riverside Community Hospital, describes both types of transplants. 
A kidney transplant is an operation in which a person with kidney failure receives a new kidney. There are two types of kidney transplants: those that come from living donors and those that come from unrelated donors who have died (non-living donors). A living donor may be someone in your biological family, your spouse or a close friend. In some cases, it may be a stranger who wishes to donate a kidney to anyone in need of a transplant. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of kidney transplants.
The NewYork-Presbyterian kidney transplantation programs perform four kinds of kidney transplants:

Compatible live donor transplants are the gold standard of kidney transplant procedures. Typically the organ is donated by a relative or friend. An organ from a perfectly matched sibling donor can function for an average of 35 years, while less perfectly matched donor organs function for 20 years on average.

Paired donor exchanges or "swaps" can be performed when two transplant candidates each have a willing and medically suitable living donor, and each is immunologically or blood type incompatible with his/her donor, but compatible with the other patient's living donor. While logistically complicated – requiring four transplant teams and operating rooms – the procedure offers the benefits inherent in finding a compatible live donor, compared to waiting for a deceased donor. Paired donor exchanges have been performed at both transplant programs since 2004.

Incompatible live donors can be used if a willing compatible donor cannot be found. This can occur if the donor/recipient pair is either blood-group incompatible or incompatible due to antibodies against the donor's antigens. In order to accept a kidney from an incompatible donor, the recipient's blood must be repeatedly "cleansed" of mismatched antibodies through plasmapheresis in combination with medications that reduce the amount of antibodies produced by the immune system.

Deceased donor procedures are reserved for those patients who do not have any willing or medically suitable live donors. Deceased donor kidneys have a 50/50 chance of maintaining their function for 10 years post-transplant. Patients with high antibodies who are waiting for a deceased donor organ can have their levels of antibodies reduced through special combinations of medications; this protocol may help to facilitate the transplantation process.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.