A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine could be a major breakthrough in how doctors facilitate kidney donations to patients in need. Currently, a patient can spend years on a donor list, waiting for a very precise match that their body will accept. According to The New York Times, tens of thousands of people can spend their entire lives waiting for a perfect kidney donor match because their immune system will attack any organ donation that is not a perfect fit.
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That could all soon change, though. A new procedure, called desensitization, could drastically reduce the waiting time for kidney patients. Desensitization entails filtering out antibodies from a person's blood so that they can start producing an entire new reserve of antibodies. The new ones produced by the body, according to research, are less likely to attack the donated organ. Still, to be safe, doctors administer drugs to the recipient to prevent the antibodies from being so aggressive. The study showed promising results for extending the lifespan of patients who received incompatible organ donations.
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The whole procedure costs about $30,000, on top of the donated organ itself which can cost $100,000. Still, it could be worth it for patients as an alternative to dialysis, which is also very expensive and essentially lasts the entirety of a person's life.
(Photo: Human kidney, cortical zone under microscope, via Bildpoet)