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    Altruistic donor starts large West Coast single-center kidney paired donation at CPMC

    Six-way Kidney “Swap” involves 12 patients, five surgeons over two days

    Illustration of Six-way paired kidney exchange: Altruistic donor from Fair Oaks to recipient 1 has a sister-in-law from Benicia who can donate to recipient 2 a Fresno mother in need of a kidney whose son matches recipient 3 Greenbrae mother and daughter pair. Daughter can donate to recipient 4, a San Francisco mom shoes daughter is a match for recipient 5, an SF brother and sister pair. And finally, the sister from Arizona is a match for recipient 6, formerly on donor wait-list.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA, March 5, 2015 – Twelve patients today are preparing to participate in a rare, two-day, six-way kidney paired donation transplant at Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC).

    Physicians here believe this procedure will be the largest single center kidney paired donation chain conducted on the West Coast and the largest conducted in the 44-year history of the CPMC Transplant Center. The two-day transplant procedure today and tomorrow began with an altruistic donor who did not have a specific recipient in mind for donation.

    “CPMC’s Kidney Transplant Unit is well prepared to handle one of the nation’s largest single center kidney paired donation chains. Helping patients since 1968, the unit currently transplants over 200 kidneys per year,” said Robert Osorio, MD, chair of CPMC’s Barry S. Levin Department of Transplantation. “The fact that this chain was started by an altruistic donor is significant in that six people who came to us with living donors with whom they are not compatible will now get living donor kidneys instead waiting years for a cadaver organ.”

    “This is an incredibly complex procedure from both a surgical and logistical perspective,” said Steven Katznelson, MD, medical director of CPMC’s Kidney Transplant Program. “The procedures involved in the kidney paired donation transplant will require a team of five surgeons, as well as anesthesiologists, physician assistants, nurses and over 40 other support staff.”

    The six couples involved in the procedure come from the Central Valley and the Bay Area. One donor will travel from Arizona to ensure that her brother receives the lifesaving kidney transplant. The ages of the donors and recipients range from 26 to 70 and include three parent and child pairs, one sibling pair and one brother and sister-in-law pair.

    “The significance of the altruistic donor is that it opens up possibilities for pairing compatible donors and recipients,” said Dr. Katznelson. “Where there had been only three or four options, with the inclusion of the altruistic donor, we had 140 options to consider for matching donors and recipients.”

    The six-way donor and recipient matches were identified using the BiologicTx Paired Donation kidney matching software called MatchGrid. MatchGrid is a sophisticated algorithmic program that enables multiple incompatible pairs to be matched with each other. The software matches the genetic characteristics of all those involved and then generates a series of matches in which each donor is matched with a transplant candidate they don’t know but who is compatible with the kidney being donated.

    BiologicTx Paired Donation’s MatchGrid software was created by David Jacobs, who came up with the idea after he underwent a kidney transplant at CPMC in 2003. He realized that there were many potential donors who were in effect being lost to the system because they didn’t match their friend or loved one.

    “Being a kidney transplant patient myself, it’s extremely gratifying to know my software helped make this six-way kidney paired donation possible,” Jacobs said. “I understand first-hand the despair of waiting for a deceased donor organ and how life changing it is to receive a living donor kidney. When I was on dialysis and didn’t have a compatible donor, I knew that paired-kidney exchange was possible, but at the time, there was no practical way to set up matches on a large scale. Three months after undergoing a kidney transplant, I started building MatchGrid.”

    “For donors, giving up a kidney is unlikely to have any long-term impact on their health,” said Dr. Katznelson. “Without a living donor, these recipients would have to wait on the list for an average of four to six years. In some cases they may never have gotten a second chance at life.”

    Finding matches for patients on the kidney paired donation list has another benefit, too. Removing these patients from the national waiting list for a cadaver kidney allows other patients on the list to move up higher and increase their chances of receiving a kidney.

    Currently the CPMC waiting list for a deceased donor kidney is about 2,000 people, compared to over 100,000 nationally. CPMC conducts over 200 kidney transplants per year, making it one of the largest kidney transplant centers in the western United States. In 2014, CPMC was recognized by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients as the nation’s only hospital with both kidney and liver transplant programs that have higher-than-expected one- and three-year adult patient survival rates. CPMC was recognized as having 98.4 percent of kidney patients survive one year after transplant, compared to the expected 96.6 percent.

    News Release
    Contact: Dean Fryer -- 415-600-7484 or pager 415-232-6463

    About California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) - A Sutter Health Affiliate

    At San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, we believe in the power of medicine. We research the most up-to-date treatments, hire the most qualified individuals, and practice the most modern, innovative medicine available. We deliver the highest-quality expert care with kindness and compassion in acute, post-acute and outpatient services, as well as preventive and complementary medicine. As one of California’s largest private, community-based, not-for-profit, teaching medical centers, and a Sutter Health affiliate, we are able to reach deep into our community to provide education, screening and financial support in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Like us on Facebook, watch us on YouTube and follow us on Twitter. For more information visit our web site at