Kidney Desensitization Program

Offering Hope for Kidney Patients Looking for Answers

It is estimated that out of the roughly 80,000 people on the national kidney transplant waiting list, 30% of them are hyper-sensitive or “sensitized”, due to high amounts of antibodies circulating in their blood. The Kidney Desensitization Program at the University of Michigan is able to perform kidney transplants in these patients who otherwise might be left with no options.

What Can Be Done for Kidney Patients Who Are Sensitized?

As a first line of defense, white blood cells produce antibodies to prevent infection in our bodies. However, these same antibodies that protect us from infection may also determine how well a kidney recipient's body accepts or rejects foreign tissue. Not all patients develop these types of antibodies. They typically result from a previous exposure to foreign tissue, such as a prior transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy.

By performing a special blood test to determine the level of antibodies, desensitization can then remove these antibodies using medications and a process similar to dialysis (dialysis removes chemicals from the blood, while this process removes harmful antibodies), improving the chances that a donated kidney will not be rejected by the recipient’s body.

Will Kidney Desensitization Work for Me?

Desensitization can be performed in patients:

  • With a potential living donor against whom they have antibodies
  • Who have a living donor who is “blood type incompatible”
  • Waiting for a deceased donor transplant

The success of desensitization depends on the amount and strength of antibodies. Some patients with very high levels of antibodies may not be successful candidates for desensitization. For these patients, our program offers the opportunity of joining our Kidney Paired Donation Program (KPD).

Get Evaluated for Kidney Desensitization

To make an appointment to get evaluated within our Kidney Desensitization Program, contact our call center at 1-800-211-8181.