Australian first: Paired kidney exchange program

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Melbourne Private Hospital changes lives of patients involved in unique paired kidney exchange program

In an Australian first, Melbourne Private Hospital has been a key player in the synchronised transplant of six donor kidneys into six recipients. All 12 operations, coordinated through the Royal Melbourne Hospital transplant team, occurred at the Royal Melbourne, Austin and Monash Medical Centre, with Melbourne Private being the only private facility involved.

Perioperative Services Manager Karen Grant reported, “Melbourne Private Hospital performs between 15 to 20 renal transplants per year. Normally these are living related transplants involving two individuals who know each other. Recently we have been involved in the paired exchange program where donors and recipients do not know each other. It was a wonderful experience to touch the lives of so many people.”

The paired kidney exchange program involved months of planning. Some of this planning relied on surgeons forgoing their regular operating time to enable key surgeons in the donor and recipient operations to extend their morning operating session to a full day to accommodate the procedures.

The final surgical go ahead was received by text message between all six operating rooms, which confirmed when all patients were anaesthetised and ready to proceed. With the patient asleep under the care of anaesthetist Dr David Hoyle, the operating team at Melbourne Private and the hospital team swung into action completing the donor procedure in the morning followed by the transplant procedure.

Both patients at Melbourne Private have recovered well, and the recipient was discharged within six days of surgery. Melbourne Private Surgeon Amanda Robertson noted, “Melbourne Private Hospital is unique being co-located with such a large teaching hospital. It’s a credit to the hospital that we can perform such procedures at Melbourne Private and fit so seamlessly into this process and service.”

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