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That debate aside, people can stay on their home hospital’s transplant list and be part of the pilot national database, potentially increasing their chances of finding of a match, says Hopkins’ Segev.

And regardless of how it’s done, increasing kidney swaps potentially helps everyone _ by removing people from the national waiting list.

“You added new kidneys to the system,” says Georgetown’s Melancon, whose hospital is transplanting about 30 percent of the people on its waiting list, nearly double the rate before he began exchanges. He’s now starting to comb old records to find patients whose incompatible donors were turned away years ago, to see if their donor’s willing to give it another try.


EDITOR’S NOTE _ Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.

(This version CORRECTS to Georgetown University Hospital, not medical center.)