The anguishing wait for a new kidney could be over for the tens of thousands of patients on the waiting list who may never find a match because their immune systems will reject almost any transplanted organ. A new national study that experts are calling revolutionary, researchers have found a way to get them the desperately needed procedure.
In this new study, doctors successfully altered patients’ immune systems to allow them to accept kidney from incompatible donors. More of those patients were still alive after eight years than patients who had remained on the waiting lists or had received a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor.
Dr. Jeffery Berns, the president of the National Kidney Foundation and a kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine stated that this new method is known as desensitization, and has the potential to save many lives.
Desensitization involves first filtering the antibodies out of a patient’s blood. The patient is then given an infusion of other antibodies to provide some protection while the immune system regenerates its own antibodies. The person’s antibodies are less likely to attack the new organ for some reasons unknown. But if the person’s antibodies are still a concern, the patient is treated with drugs that destroy any white blood cells that might make antibodies that would attack the new kidney.
An unknown number of people with kidney failure give up on their waiting list after learning that their bodies would reject any organ. Most of them resign to dialysis, a more difficult procedure that can drain a person’s life. This new procedure as we have it has been known to be life changing and has been confirmed by some patients too.