Not long ago, if you needed a kidney transplant you would turn to family, relatives or close friends. If there was no compatible (or willing) donor, your chances of receiving a healthy kidney from a living donor would be slim to none.
Your next option would be the waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor, which could take anywhere from five to eight years and even longer for hard-to-match recipients. This would not be ideal if you were gravely ill, or if you had issues tolerating dialysis, which would be your only other option.
Since 2008, however, things have changed. There is new hope for the more than 3,500 Canadians (450 in BC) who await a life-saving kidney transplant. Not to mention the two million Canadians who either have kidney disease or are at risk for it.
How it works
For patients in dire need of a transplant, the Kidney Paired Donor Registry increases the donor pool by giving people who are unable to receive a kidney from a loved one the chance to receive a transplant from other donors through an innovative exchange program.
Say, for example, that Donor A wants to donate a kidney to Recipient A but they are not a match. And donor B wants to donate a kidney to Recipient B but they don’t match, either.
If Donor A and Recipient A are entered in the Kidney Paired Donor Registry (as Pair A) and Donor B and Recipient B are also registered (as Pair B) it can be discovered that Donor A is in fact a match for Recipient B; and Donor B is a match for Recipient A.
As a result of the registry, two people in need of a new kidney have been matched to two donors who are compatible for each recipient. Before the registry, this potentially life-saving match would have never happened. The more people that join the registry, the better the odds of compatible donors being found for registered recipients
There are additional combinations for multiple pairs of recipients/donors, as well as for when a person simply wishes to donate a kidney anonymously, with no intended recipient. Since the registry began, more than 400 donors and recipients have been matched. That’s 400 fewer people on the donor waiting list. That’s 400 people who will not need dialysis.
St. Paul’s leads the way
In addition to performing more kidney transplants than any other hospital in BC, St. Paul’s is one of the three referral centres for the registry in BC and the Yukon.
According to Transplant BC, British Columbia leads the country in living kidney donations. Nationally, the rate is 16 per million; in BC, it is 24 per million. The Renal Program at St. Paul’s and, in particular, the Kidney Pre-Transplant Program, is a big part of this success.
The registry is a truly impressive feat of coordination across health care entities. But most important, the registry is working, matching donors and recipients in unprecedented numbers and transforming the kidney transplant landscape as we know it.
Now is the perfect time to support kidney research and patient care at St. Paul’s, including the development of game-changing programs like the Kidney Paired Donor Registry. You can make your gift today, at www.helpstpauls.com