From its start in 2004, the OPTN/UNOS kidney paired donation (KPD) pilot program has evolved thanks to the contributions of many.
In addition to the numerous volunteer hours devoted to the effort by members of the OPTN/UNOS kidney transplantation committee and its KPD working group, gifts of software, hardware, consulting and charitable funds have helped the program survive—and thrive—making transplants available to dozens of candidates whose willing living donor wasn’t a match.
The matching technology at the very heart of the KPD program was donated. Sommer Gentry, Ph.D., of the U.S. Naval Academy and Johns Hopkins University, developed and donated software that finds donors that match specific candidates. Carnegie Mellon University and Tuomas Sandholm, Ph.D., developed and then donated the “optimizer” software, which performs the match run and searches for optimal matching based on specific donor and candidate variables. Dr. Gentry and Dr. Sandholm also provided pro bono consulting to the KPD working group throughout the development of the program.
New England Organ Bank and the New England Program for Kidney Exchange donated the artwork for the KPD brochure. The 2010 pilot test was made possible in part by charitable gifts from the Cabell Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the I.J. and Hilda Breeden Foundation, Titmus Foundation and Peachtree House Foundation, as well as in-kind contributions from EDS Consulting and ILOG Inc.
Beginning last June, the UNOS Foundation raised charitable support for one-time expenses associated with automating the KPD program’s manual functions and integrating the system into UNet.
By March, $1,475,000 had been secured from five generous sponsors, three of whom are first-time supporters: Amgen, Pfizer and United Health Foundation. President of United Health Foundation Kate Rubin explained, “The mission of United Health Foundation is to expand access to health care while improving medical outcomes and the well-being of communities. The exciting work that UNOS is doing to automate the kidney paired donation program will lead to shorter waits, more transplants and better results.”
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. has a long history of supporting UNOS’ patient information programs. Dharmesh Patel, M.D., Novartis executive medical director, explained why the company chose to sponsor the KPD project. “We are proud to support UNOS’ paired exchange organ donation program. With nearly 100,000 patients on the kidney transplant waiting list,” Dr. Patel said, “and more added with each passing day, it is critical that we find a solution to address this growing public health need.”
The Amgen Foundation is a new supporter of UNOS. “The kidney paired donation program will create greater likelihood that patients, particularly those who have had limited chance at a match, to find a donor,” said Jean Lim Terra,president of the Amgen Foundation.
“We are proud to support UNOS in its mission to save lives through organ transplantation.”