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Organ Network ­ses Algorithm to Match Live Kidney Donors With Recipients


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Carnegie Mellon University professor Tuomas Sandholm

"A unified nationwide exchange can yield significantly better solutions than multiple separate exchanges," says Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science Tuomas Sandholm.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed an algorithm that matches living kidney donors with compatible transplant recipients, and initiated a pilot program as part of the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. The algorithm works by looking for combinations between donors and recipients on the basis of compatible blood and tissue types. The odds of finding compatible matches rise as the size of the exchange pool increases, so the researchers want to create a national pool for kidney transplants.

"A unified nationwide exchange can yield significantly better solutions than multiple separate exchanges, and it is extremely rewarding that after we have worked on this for six years, the nationwide program is now live," says CMU professor Tuomas Sandholm. The algorithm finds an optimal solution by only committing to memory those parts of the problem that end up being pertinent, which adds to the system's optimization.

"In the future, kidney exchanges could be made even better by using our newest generation of algorithms that consider not only the current problem but also anticipate donors and patients who might later join the system," Sandholm says.

From Carnegie Mellon University
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