Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program Joins National Kidney Registry; Completes First Paired Kidney Donation Exchange
April 23, 2019
In an effort to alleviate the current organ shortage, the Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center has joined a national registry that helps match organ donors and recipients across the nation, but in a different way. 
The National Kidney Registry is a unique nationwide organ donor exchange program that facilitates paired exchanges, a process in which an organ donor donates their kidney to a recipient other than their loved one in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one. This program can facilitate living donor transplants among those patients that are hard to match and may help in many instances to find a better match than conventional living donor transplants.
The Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center is the only organ transplant center in Utah to be a part of this national registry. Since joining the registry four months ago, the Intermountain transplant program is already seeing positive results, including its first paired kidney donation exchange.
The National Kidney Registry finds optimal matches for kidney recipients with the largest pool of living donors across 85 organ transplant centers in the United States. The registry helped facilitate more than 600 kidney transplants last year and more than 3,300 since 2008.
“This is a significant achievement. The more donors we have access to, the better odds of people getting a life-saving organ,” said Titte Srinivas, MD, medical director of the Intermountain Healthcare Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center. 
About 103,011 people are on the current U.S. waiting list for a kidney. In Utah, 534 people are waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
After waiting two years for a kidney, earlier this month Joel Frederiksen, 59, from Roy received his new lease on life from a living donor in Virginia. His transplant procedure at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, completed a four-way swap involving his childhood friend.
The friend, Curtis Brown, 59, had wanted to donate his kidney to Frederiksen for more than a year. They were compatible when it came to blood type but were not a good cross match. So, doctors at Intermountain Healthcare’s Transplant Center signed Frederiksen and Brown up on the National Kidney Registry for a paired swap.
Brown had his procedure to donate his kidney in December 2018. This moved Frederiksen to the top of the registry list, and he received his kidney in exchange, through the registry on April 3, 2019.
“It saved my life. I immediately woke up feeling better,” said Frederiksen. “I felt like I was going nowhere on the national organ transplant list. Joining the National Kidney Registry got me my kidney within six months.”
Compatible pairs have an opportunity to participate in a chain of transplants that can help a number of people receive a new organ while at the same time trade up for a better matched kidney that might last longer.
The more similar a donor kidney is to a recipient’s organ, the less likely the immune system will reject it slowly over time, therefore the longer the kidney will last.
Other benefits for participating in an exchange transplant include:
Shorter wait time for a kidney. The national registry aims to find a well-matched living donor in under six months.
The registry is not just helping one person get transplanted, they are potentially helping a whole chain of people receive transplants.
Donors and recipients undergo operations close to their place of residence at a mutually acceptable and convenient time.
The kidneys are flown to appropriate centers and tracked real time. Studies show that the function of kidneys flown across the country are no different than those that stay locally.
To sign up to become an organ donor go to: www.IntermountainHealthcare.org/DonateLife. For more information on the National Kidney Registry, go to: www.kidneyregistry.org
“Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program Joins National Kidney Registry; Completes First Paired Kidney Donation Exchange.” Intermountain Healthcare, 23 April 2019, https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news/2019/04/intermountain-healthcare-transplant-program-joins-national-kidney-registry/.