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Cleveland Clinic Performs Its First Three-Way Kidney Swap

photo of Cleveland Clinic kidney swap
The six-person, three-way kidney swap performed by Cleveland Clinic relied heavily on checking matches in the national registry virtually, before performing time-consuming blood work.

Cleveland Clinic has performed its first three-way kidney swap, using technology to genetically match up six people.

The kidney swap involved three pairs of people, each with one person needing a kidney and the other willing to donate theirs.  The problem was that within each pair, the donor and the recipient were not compatible.

Cleveland Clinic used the National Kidney Registry to ensure compatibility among the three pairs – two of whom are married couples.

Dr. Alvin Wee is one of the surgeons who participated in the procedures.

“This is a partnership.  Its goal is one thing: we want to transplant and help more people as we can.  For the people who are not compatible, for the people that have the barrier because they’re different blood types.  Our main goal is to give people the chance they never had.”

Dr. Wee adds that the three-way swap was made possible using virtual cross-matching to check for matches among the six people involved, instead of waiting for time-consuming blood work to check compatibility.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.