When Paul Meyer learned his kidneys were
failing and he needed dialysis to survive, he was placed on the list
for a cadaver organ transplant.
Although his wife, Rose, was eager to
donate a kidney, her tissue was incompatible. So like hundreds of other
transplant candidates, Mr. Meyer, of Covington, Ky., faced a possible
three- to four-year wait on kidney-cleansing dialysis until a cadaver
kidney became available.
But thanks to a new concept in kidney
donation, known as the paired donation program, the wait turned out to
be much shorter than Mr. Meyer had dreamed possible.
Not only did he get a new kidney, the computer-based program was such big news he became a star nationwide on CNN television.
Developed jointly by UC's Institute for
the Study of Health and Ohio's kidney transplant programs, the paired
donation program was the brainchild of UC surgeon Steve Woodle, MD,
transplant specialists across the state, and UC computer programmer
Jonathan Kopke. A registry of potential living donors, it allows
relatives or friends whose tissue doesn't match that of a loved one in
need to donate an organ to someone else who's seeking their particular
tissue type--in exchange for a compatible organ from the recipient's
family or friends.
Jonathan Kopke's computer program matched Mr. and Mrs. Meyer with Mrs. Josephine Vollmer and her son, Dan, in Toledo.
Mrs. Vollmer needed a kidney, and Dan,
whose tissue didn't match his mother's, was willing to donate one of
his for an organ compatible with his mother.
Although Mrs. Meyer couldn't donate to her husband, she was a perfect match for Mrs. Vollmer. And the trade was arranged.
Dan Vollmer and Mr. Meyer met at Christ
Hospital, where Dr. Woodle, and UC surgeons Rino Munda, MD, and Mark
Thomas, MD, transplanted one of Dan's kidneys into Mr. Meyer--and Mrs.
Meyer and Mrs. Vollmer met at the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo,
where Mrs. Vollmer received Mrs. Meyer's donated organ.
The Meyer/Vollmer transplants were only
the third paired kidney transplants performed in Ohio, but eight more
matching pairs are being evaluated. Currently more than 50 patients
have received kidneys via paired organ registries, with a success rate
of 95 percent one year after transplantation.
According to the National Kidney
Foundation, 60,000 patients are awaiting kidney transplants in the
United States, a significant number of whom will die for lack of a