April 6, 2000
--Could Increase Kidney Donation by 35 Percent--
A new procedure offered by the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center enables a kidney transplant between any two people, regardless of blood type.
Historically, kidney donors and recipients needed to have compatible blood types, limiting the number of donors. Using the new method – called "ABO Incompatible" because the organ donor's blood type (A, B, AB or O) doesn't match that of the recipient – physicians are able to cross the blood group barriers.
To prevent immediate, irreversible rejection of the kidney, the recipient has four or five plasmapheresis treatments the week before surgery. During plasmapheresis, patients' antibodies are filtered from their blood. Two additional treatments are needed the week after surgery.
Most commonly performed in Japan, the technique is available at only a handful of medical centers across the United States. Two ABO Incompatible procedures have been performed at Hopkins to date, one in October and one in March. "Results are encouraging," says Lloyd Ratner, M.D., director of Hopkins' kidney transplant program. He estimates the new method could yield a 35 percent increase in kidney donation from living donors.
Laparoscopic surgery to remove a donor kidney – pioneered by Ratner and colleague Louis Kavoussi, M.D., at Hopkins in 1995 – and better anti-rejection medications have made the procedure more palatable for both parties, Ratner says. More than 45,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants in this country, Ratner says.
Related Web Sites:
The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center: http://www.med.jhu.edu/transplant
Transplant Resource Center of Maryland: http://www.mdtransplant.org
United Network for Organ Sharing: http://www.unos.org