Pairwise Kidney Exchange over the Blood Group Barrier

Advances in medical technology have made kidney transplants over the blood group barrier feasible. This paper investigates how such technology should be implemented when designing pairwise kidney exchange programs. The possibility to receive a kidney transplant from a blood group incompatible donor motivates an extension of the preference domain, allowing patients to distinguish between compatible donors and half-compatible donors (i.e., blood group incompatible donors that only become compatible after undergoing an immunosuppressive treatment). It is demonstrated that the number of transplants can be substantially increased by providing an incentive for patients with half-compatible donors to participate in kidney exchange programs. The results also suggest that the technology is beneficial for patient groups that are traditionally disadvantaged in kidney exchange programs (e.g., blood group O patients). The positive effect of allowing transplants over the blood group barrier is larger than the corresponding effects of including altruistic patient-donor pairs or of allowing three-way exchanges in addition to pairwise exchanges.

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