Building kidney exchange programmes in Europe - An overview of exchange practice and activities

Péter Biró, Bernadette Haase-Kromwijk, Tommy Andersson, Eyjólfur Ingi Ásgeirsson, Tatiana Baltesová, Ioannis Boletis, Catarina Bolotinha, Gregor Bond, Georg Böhmig, Lisa Burnapp, Katarína Cechlárová, Paola Di Ciaccio, Jiri Fronek, Karine Hadaya, Aline Hemke, Christian Jacquelinet, Rachel Johnson, Rafal Kieszek, Dirk R. Kuypers, Ruthanne LeishmanMarie Alice Macher, David Manlove, Georgia Menoudakou, Mikko Salonen, Bart Smeulders, Vito Sparacino, Frits C.R. Spieksma, María Oliva Valentín, Nic Wilson, Joris Van Der Klundert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Background. Considerable differences exist among the living donor Kidney Exchange Programmes (KEPs) that are in use and being built in Europe, contributing to a variation in the number of living donor transplants (Newsletter Transplant; International figures on donation and transplantation 2016). Efforts of European KEPs to exchange (best) practices and share approaches to address challenges have, however, been limited. Methods. Experts from 23 European countries, collaborating on the European Network for Collaboration on Kidney Exchange Programmes Cooperation on Science and Technology Action, developed a questionnaire to collect detailed information on the functioning of all existing KEPs in Europe, as well as their opportunities and challenges. Following a comparative analysis, results were synthesized and interpreted by the same experts. Results. The practices, opportunities and challenges reported by 17 European countries reveal that some of the 10 operating programs are mature, whereas others are in earlier stages of development. Over 1300 transplants were performed through existing KEPs up to the end of 2016, providing approximately 8% of their countries' living kidney donations in 2015. All countries report challenges to either initiating KEPs or increasing volumes. Some challenges are shared, whereas others differ because of differences in context (eg, country size, effectiveness of deceased donor program) and ethical and legal considerations (eg, regarding living donation as such, nonrelated donors, and altruistic donation). Transnational initiatives have started in Central Europe, Scandinavia, and Southern Europe. Conclusions. Exchange of best practices and shared advancement of national programs to address existing challenges, aided by transnational exchanges, may substantially improve access to the most (cost) effective treatment for the increasing number of patients suffering from kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1514-1522
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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