JULY 2009

Donors and recipients meet at RRUCLA.

UCLA performs rare kidney transplant chains

Lives were changed forever when two altruistic kidney donors set in motion a series a kidney swaps through the UCLA Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

A “donor chain” creates opportunities for endless donor-recipient pairings. It starts with an altruistic donor — someone who wants to donate a kidney out of the goodness of his or her heart. That kidney is transplanted into a recipient who had a donor willing to give a kidney, but whose kidney was not a match. To keep the chain going, the incompatible donor gives a kidney to another patient, unknown to him or her, who has been identified as a match, essentially “paying it forward.”

Harry Damon, a firefighter from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Nicole Lanstrum, who was born and raised in rural Iowa, initiated two kidney transplant chains last week at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center that freed at least six kidney patients — four at UCLA and two in San Francisco — from lives on dialysis. And because their generosity helped initiate similar chains at other transplant centers, the lives of many others will be restored.

About 30 to 40 percent of the people who have a willing living donor don’t match that person,” notes Jeffrey Veale, M.D., director of UCLA’s Kidney Donor Exchange Program. “With this innovative program, we can greatly expand the donor pool.”

For more information and to watch a video, visit: www.transplant.ucla.edu/kidneyexchange