CINCINNATI—Goodman Street, Highland Avenue and William Howard Taft Road were traveled Wednesday by many on their way to work, lunch or the gym.
But one of those travelers was making special trips between University Hospital and Christ Hospital with some very precious cargo: living-donor kidneys waiting to be transplanted.
Two kidneys from living donors—one delivered to University Hospital from Christ Hospital, the other from Christ Hospital to University—were transported as part of a paired kidney donation program transplant surgery Wednesday afternoon.
The paired kidney donation procedure has been pioneered over the past 11 years by Steve Woodle, MD, chief of transplant surgery at UC, and his colleagues in order to increase the number of available donors to people in need of kidney transplant.
Paired kidney donation works by allowing an incompatible kidney transplant recipient and their donor to exchange kidneys with other donor/recipient pairs who are also incompatible.
Normally, donors participating in the paired kidney program are faced with traveling to a hospital close to the organ recipient with whom they are a match, taking them away from their loved one receiving an organ. But because University and Christ hospitals are so close in proximity—about 1.5 miles—the kidneys could be transported between hospitals, allowing the donors to stay with their families.
“A paired donation where the hospitals are so close is unusual,” says Woodle. “Usually, matched pairs live significant distances from each other. All four patients involved in today’s transplants were Cincinnati residents.
“We don’t see that kind of thing very often in paired donation procedures.”
A unique aspect of paired donation procedures is that the donor operations must be performed simultaneously—as a protection in case one donor would decide to back out.
In today’s procedure, the four operations were performed by UC transplant surgeons. At University Hospital, Woodle performed the recipient surgery, and Dong-Sik Kim, MD, performed the kidney donor surgery. At Christ Hospital, the donor surgery was performed by Amit Tevar, MD, and the recipient operation was performed by Rino Munda, MD.
“To do a paired donation such as this requires substantial surgical manpower and expertise,” Woodle says. “Smaller transplant programs cannot muster four surgical teams to operate simultaneously as was required here.”
Woodle says paired donations currently account for less than 0.5 percent of kidney transplants in the United States.
The UC transplant team has previously participated in three other paired donations within the state of Ohio.
Today’s paired donation transplants were organized through a national paired donation program. The Paired Donation Network was originally organized by kidney transplant programs in Ohio and has performed over 30 kidney transplants between incompatible donor/recipient pairs, in addition to enrolling a total of over 200 incompatible donor/recipient pairs in the program from over 20 kidney transplant programs.