Alice wants to give a kidney to Andrew, but they’re not a good match. Bill wants to give a kidney to Betsy, but they’re also not a good match. However, Alice is a good match for Betsy and Bill is a good match for Andrew. So, Alice donates her kidney to Betsy, and Bill donates his kidney to Andrew. That way, everyone who needs a kidney gets one.
Paired kidney donation (or paired exchange) is an option when you have a relative or friend who is willing and able to be a kidney donor, but he or she is not a match for you. In a paired exchange, your relative or friend gives a kidney to someone who needs it, and that recipients’ relative or friend gives his or her kidney to you. Look at the picture below to understand how this works.
Talk to your transplant team if you are interested in participating in a paired exchange.
Incompatible kidney transplant
Certain transplant centers now offer incompatible kidney transplants, which are done when the donor kidney has a blood type or antibodies that do not match well (are incompatible with) the recipient’s (the person getting the kidney). Transplant doctors use special methods to make the recipient’s body less sensitive to the donor’s unmatched (incompatible) blood or antibodies. Talk to your doctor about whether this could be an option for you.