It's estimated that sensitized patients wait three to four times longer for a compatible kidney from a deceased donor, vs. non-sensitized patients.
When a potential donor kidney is found, doctors perform a "cross-match" test, which involves mixing a blood sample from the recipient with blood cells from the donor. If the result is "positive," that means the patient has anti-HLA antibodies against that donor's tissue.
In those cases, patients may be able to have the anti-HLA antibodies removed, in what doctors call "desensitization." Even after that process, though, the donor organ can still be rejected, and the cost of desensitization ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 -- which may or may not be covered by insurance.
But Lappin said the new results present the possibility that if patients' antibodies are not of the C1q-binding variety, the donor kidney could still be suitable.
"That could potentially give sensitized patients more options," she said.
In the United States, almost 98,000 people are currently on the waiting list to get a donor kidney, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on kidney transplants.
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