The donor organ shortage has been one of the major barriers to kidney transplantation in Korea, even though there has been a small but steady flow of cadaveric kidney donations for the last decade. To expand the donor pool in kidney transplantation, we have developed the exchange donor program at our institution and in Korea. The donor exchange program was first started for end-stage renal disease patients who had willing but incompatible related donors due to positive lymphocyte cross-match. The kidney transplantations were performed using exchanged kidneys between two families with successful results. Since this success, we have expanded the donor pool by accepting close relatives, spouses, friends of recipients, and willing voluntary donors as candidates for exchange donors with careful donor screening procedures. It helps relieve stress on donor supply. Particularly in those countries where brain death has not been socially or legally accepted, living donors including related, unrelated, and exchange donors should be considered as potential donors for kidney transplantation to relieve the pressure on donor organ shortage.
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