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What is ABO incompatible kidney transplant surgery?

With this procedure, the patient receives a kidney from a willing and healthy living donor with a different blood type. Transplant candidates for ABO incompatible kidney transplant surgery must have end-stage renal failure, as well as an acceptable baseline antibody titer.

Why it’s done

Currently, there are more than 83,000 Americans on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney (also known as cadaveric transplantation). The waiting time for patients with blood group O or B is approximately five years at most kidney transplant centers. The gap between potential recipients and available deceased donor organs is increasing. As a result, the average time on the kidney transplant waiting list exceeds the life expectancy on dialysis for some patients. ABO incompatible kidney transplant surgery increases the availability of kidneys from living donors for kidney transplantation.

What to expect

The potential kidney transplant recipient undergoes a “desensitization” procedure (a combination of medications and plasmapheresis treatments) prior to the transplant to decrease the possibility that their body might reject the donor kidney.


In the short term, patients who have undergone ABO incompatible kidney transplant surgery have a slightly higher risk of acute rejection and possible loss of the donor kidney. However, current data implies that there is no significant difference in long-term patient or graft survival.

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