Kidney Exchange

The Kidney Exchange Program increases access to a lifesaving kidney transplant by expanding the kidney donor pool.

Doctor holding kidney illustration in his hands.
Illustration of kidneys

Why choose UCLA Health for kidney exchange?

The UCLA Health Kidney Exchange Program offers hope to more patients with end-stage renal disease. When you choose us, you benefit from: 

Increased access: We designed our kidney exchange program to expand the kidney pool so that more people who need transplants have access to them. In the past, many patients had to remain on dialysis for years before receiving a kidney transplant.

Exceptional outcomes: In our Kidney Transplant Program, we consistently exceed the national averages in outcomes and survival rates. As a referral center, we constantly treat patients with complex disease, making our excellent results even more impressive.

Treatment from leading researchers: Our physicians are leaders in clinical care, research, and academic excellence. We continue to pave the way in offering you the most promising new therapies.

Watch Video - Good Morning America (ABC News)
Man donates 1 kidney and saves 2 lives - Good Morning America (ABC News). Watch Video

What is kidney exchange?

When you need a kidney transplant, you must find a donor who is a match. Being a donor match means that the recipient and donor have compatible:

  • Antibodies
  • Blood types
  • Tissue

Up to one-third of patients who have a willing living donor can’t receive the kidney because the donor and patient are not a good match. With kidney exchange, you can exchange donors with another donor/recipient pair who is in a similar situation.

UCLA Health is pioneering in transplant medicine. Learn more about our innovative kidney transplant programs:

Our areas of care

There are a few ways to take advantage of our Kidney Exchange Program. Your options include:  

Kidney swap

If you and your donor have incompatible blood types, you can swap donors with another donor/recipient pair who is compatible with you. We can also set up kidney swaps for three donor/recipient pairs. 

Kidney chain

Kidney chains start when someone wants to donate a kidney but doesn’t have a known recipient. We give the donor kidney to someone who has a living donor who isn’t a match.

We keep the chain going by matching the incompatible donor with a stranger who needs the kidney, essentially paying it forward. An advanced computer program pairs donors and matches and keeps the chain going across the country. 

In 2008, UCLA Health performed the first transcontinental live-kidney donation chain.

Kidney voucher

We offer a Kidney Voucher Program in association with the National Kidney Registry. The voucher program allows donors to donate a kidney before the intended recipient even needs it.

Donors may want to participate in the voucher program to donate at an optimal time for them so the transplantation can occur later. For example, people may want to donate:

  • When they are still under 65 years old
  • Before major life events, such as marriage or significant travel
  • When they are not the sole caregiver for their kidney recipient

Meet the team

Our kidney transplant team consistently sets and raises the standards in kidney transplantations. We are one of the largest kidney transplant programs in the country and have performed more than 8,000 adult and pediatric kidney transplants to-date.

Contact us

Call 310-267-6907 to request an appointment with the Kidney Exchange Program at UCLA Health.

Find your care

The Kidney Exchange Program offers more patients access to a donor kidney. Call 310-267-6907 to learn more.

If you are a kidney donor, please contact the Living Donor Line at 866-672-5333.