United Health Foundation Gives $500,000 to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to Help Expand Kidney Paired Donation

  United Health Foundation Gives $500,000 to United Network for Organ Sharing
  (UNOS) to Help Expand Kidney Paired Donation Matching Service

  *Goal is to provide every kidney transplant program in the United States
    access to automated KPD matching services within the secure technology of
    the nation’s organ transplant system.

Business Wire

RICHMOND, Va. -- March 6, 2013

United Health Foundation has given $500,000 to United Network for Organ
Sharing (UNOS) to integrate UNOS’s kidney paired donation (KPD) matching
service into the national transplant system’s technology infrastructure.

One of the fastest-growing areas of transplantation is living donation, in
which transplant candidates obtain the organ (often a kidney) they need from a
healthy, living donor. Until recently, no transplant could take place if a
patient was incompatible with his or her living donor.

Today, KPD enables willing but incompatible donors to help their intended
recipients obtain transplants. KPD matches one incompatible donor/recipient
pair to another pair with a similar incompatibility, so that the donor of the
first pair gives to the recipient of the second, and vice versa. The two pairs
exchange kidneys, resulting in two transplants that could not have otherwise
taken place.

The funding from United Health Foundation will help UNOS automate current
features of KPD matching that are now performed on a manual and scheduled
basis, thus making KPD matching services more readily available to all kidney
programs and their patients over the next year. United Health Foundation is
being joined by Pfizer, the Amgen Foundation and Genentech in funding this
innovative and much-needed resource.

By expanding the KPD matching service, UNOS aims to provide every U.S. kidney
transplant program universal access to a larger pool of candidates and donors
in order to facilitate more life-changing kidney transplants. The impact of
paired donation on the transplant field is unprecedented. According to UNOS,
it is estimated that, once fully operational, hundreds more transplants will
take place. In addition, it is expected to reduce waiting times for organs and
lead to better outcomes, as candidates who receive kidneys from living donors
live longer, on average, than people who receive kidneys from deceased donors.

“We are very grateful for United Health Foundation’s support,” said UNOS Vice
President/President-Elect Kenneth Andreoni, M.D., who has spearheaded
development of UNOS’ KPD services. “It will help us in key areas such as
software programming, training and educational resources for KPD users,
transplant candidates and prospective donors. This gift helps us focus our
efforts on providing more transplant opportunities for all transplant
candidates with potential living donors.”

“The exciting work that UNOS is doing to facilitate kidney paired donation
will lead to shorter waits, more transplants and better health outcomes,” said
United Health Foundation President Kate Rubin. “United Health Foundation is
grateful for the opportunity to support an organization that will improve the
health and well-being of thousands of people, and even save lives.”

Often, kidney donors are genetically related to the transplant candidate;
however, candidates are not always compatible with their potential donors. In
this instance, KPD allows a potential donor to still donate. “Paired
donation,” or “paired exchange,” involves two pairs of potential living kidney
donors and transplant candidates who are incompatible. The two candidates
exchange donors so that each candidate receives a kidney from a compatible
donor. In some cases, this type of exchange has involved multiple living
kidney donor/transplant candidate pairs, creating a chain of donors “paying it
forward” to benefit others.

About the United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health
Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to
better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports
activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in
challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being
of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in
1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed
more than $200 million to improve health and health care. For additional
information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

Contact:

United Health Foundation
Lauren Mihajlov, 952-936-3068
Lauren_mihajlov@uhg.com
or
UNOS News Bureau
804-782-4730
newsroom@unos.org
 
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