The UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme
The UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme (UKLKSS) started in April 2007 because many ‘difficult to match’ patients had friends and family who wanted to donate a kidney, but weren’t a compatible match by blood group or tissue (HLA) type.
If a patient enters the sharing scheme with their friend or family member, the pair may be matched with another pair in the scheme so that each recipient receives a kidney from the other’s friend or family member.
This kidney exchange programme increases the number of people who can receive transplants from living kidney donors and the opportunities for patients who wait a long time for a transplant.
The UKLKSS is managed by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which uses algorithms to find matches for the 300 recipients registered in the scheme at any one time. NHSBT normally carries out matching runs four times a year to find the best combinations of recipients and patients. The scheme is anonymous and confidential, and people do not know who their donor or recipient is.
The UKLKSS can match pairs in either two or three-way swaps or in ‘chains’ of up to three transplants, triggered by a non-directed altruistic kidney donor. This is where someone volunteers to donate a kidney to someone they don’t know.
The matching runs process
Living donor kidney matching runs are normally carried out quarterly, in January, April, July and October, to identify two-way and three-way paired exchanges, and altruistic donor chains.