By Kat Keeney, NBC Producer
A unique approach to kidney donations is widening the available pool of donors for more then 72,000 people currently waiting for a kidney. In traditional donations, patients reach out to a circle of family and friends to find a match. When no suitable match is available, kidney patients typically wait years on a transplant list -- with thousands dying each year -- before receiving a kidney.
NBC's Jennifer London reports on a groundbreaking program developed at the University of Toledo called "paired donations." The first one started in Phoenix, Ariz., when an altruistic donor gave his kidney to woman in need. Her husband was not a match but donated his kidney to a woman in Ohio who was. That patients mother donated her kidney to the next patient and the chain is continuing.
The program allows family and friends to pool together and provide donors for each other. The catch is when one patient gets a match, they have to be able to be able to provide a kidney donor to continue the chain. There is an element of trust, but most of the donations are scheduled simultaneously so donors don't back out.
Other hospitals are now beginning to start their own chains. To find out more or to sign up to become a donor visit: www.paireddonation.org