Walter Reed announces pilot program as part of Organ Summit

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(Army photo)

BETHESDA, Md. — Walter Reed National Military Medical Center officials today announced a pilot program to pioneer kidney paired donation chains started via the military share program, in which families of active duty military service members donate one of their kidneys to patients listed for transplant at the medical center’s campus here.

Kidney paired donation is a transplant option for candidates who have a living donor who is medically able, but cannot donate a kidney to their intended candidate because they are incompatible. In announcing the program as part of the White House-hosted Organ Summit, officials said this effort is to help sensitized patients, who are hard to match, to receive kidney transplants.

Through this initiative, service members around the country also can help some of the hardest-to-match veterans and their dependents to receive transplants using kidneys from the military share program, while at the same time facilitating life-saving kidney-paired donation chains for civilian patients, officials said.

 

Potential to Increase Organ Allocation

“We are excited to participate in this initiative, which has the potential to increase organ allocation for our patients,” Navy Capt. (Dr.) Eric Elster, professor and chairman of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said. “While it will require overcoming logistical barriers, we in military medicine excel at such challenges.”

Walter Reed surgeons perform an average of 25 transplants per year on patients from across the country, and the medical center also maintains a living donor kidney transplant program that participates in national paired kidney exchanges.

Army Maj. (Dr.) Jason Hawksworth, transplant chief at Walter Reed, said his team “looks forward to contributing to the innovative initiative that may exponentially increase the availability of life-saving transplants on patients throughout the nation.”

According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a regulatory body that tracks transplants, Walter Reed has the best organ transplant outcomes in the greater Washington-Baltimore region.