NewsHealth / March 14, 2016

Desensitization Process Helps Kidney Transplant Patients

Desensitization Process Helps Kidney Transplant Patients

INDIANAPOLIS - A new study shows that a relatively new procedure called “desensitization” allows patients receiving kidney transplants to live longer. 

For the past ten years, Indiana University Health has been on the front lines of a kidney transplant method that makes it possible for some people to receive a kidney from anyone – without waiting for years on a list for a donor.

The procedure is called “desensitization.” And patients are living, and their living considerably longer than those who had to wait.

Dr. Tim Taber, medical director of the kidney transplant program at Indiana University Health says “desensitization” is also more cost effective than long term dialysis, that can cost up to one hundred thousand dollars a year. 

"In the big picture if you can get somebody desensitized and get a kidney in them that works, not only do they live longer but it’s cheaper to maintain that person’s life."  Said Taber.

In short, the procedure works by desensitizing a person’s immune system, so it doesn’t attack the new kidney. Dr. Taber says they’ve been able to fine-tune the procedure at IU Health but there are still obstacles.

"It’s difficult to do, it takes a lot of expertise and time but we have that now and by and large the patients do quite well." Said Taber.

Also, insurance does not always cover the procedure.

About 100,000 people in the United States are waiting on a kidney and experts say about half could benefit from desensitization. 

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