What is paired kidney donation?

Paired kidney donation provides a chance for a recipient to get a kidney that is best suited for their individual condition. With paired kidney donation, donors and recipients have options. Our goal is to determine which donation option provides the best kidney for the recipient.

Pairing process

We evaluate potential donors to make sure they are healthy enough to donate. If they are, we determine blood type and antibody status, two key factors used to match a donor with a potential recipient.

We enter this information about donors and recipients into our matching software program, which includes information about other patients and their approved donors. This matching program will tell us which of three donation possibilities are available:

  1. A donor is compatible with his or her intended recipient and may choose to give a kidney to that person.
  2. A donor is compatible with his or her intended recipient, but is also compatible with another recipient whose potential donor is compatible with the first donor’s recipient. In some cases, the kidney from a different donor may be more appropriate for the first donor’s intended recipient.
  3. The potential donor is not compatible with their intended recipient. However, the donor and recipient are compatible with another living donor pair. In this case, donor A would give a kidney to recipient B, and donor B would give a kidney to recipient A.

The goal of this paired donation process is to help as many recipients as possible, using each donor kidney in the most effective way possible. Ultimately, each donor in the paired exchange has achieved what they set out to do: give someone the gift of life. And each recipient has been given the priceless gift of a living donor kidney.

Why are some eligible donors more compatible than others?

Studies have shown that differences in the size of the recipient and donor can influence kidney transplant outcomes. For example, a 5’1”, 110-pound female may not be the best donor for a 6’4”, 250-pound male. In other words, proper organ size can be critical to a successful transplant.

In this scenario, the first recipient would receive a more appropriately sized organ, and the first potential donor would donate a kidney to another compatible and suitable patient. This act can start a chain where multiple donor/recipient pairs are possible because the first donor chose to donate to someone other than their intended recipient.


Internal paired exchange

The kidney transplant programs at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Baylor All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple utilize an internal paired exchange based on an advanced software application. This tool allows physicians to rapidly and accurately match living organ donors with patients who have willing, healthy, but incompatible donors. 

Because each medical center uses the same electronic health record, offers can be quickly evaluated, and when it’s time to transplant the kidneys, the organs travel only a short distance. 

If a potential recipient is in the internal paired exchange system for several months without a match, they are entered into the national matching programs as well.

Contact us

Dallas: 214.820.GIFT (214.820.4438) | Fort Worth: 817.922.2990 | Temple: 254.724.9443