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A new way to ease the organ shortage: ‘Regifting’ kidneys used in previous transplants

Since last year, a UCLA surgeon has transplanted three “regifted” kidneys from previous transplant recipients who died — breaking an unspoken taboo against using kidneys for a third time.

LOS ANGELES — Like many transplant surgeons, Dr. Jeffrey Veale got frustrated seeing so many of his patients die while waiting for a donor kidney. So he decided to do something about it: recycle.

Since last year, the UCLA surgeon has transplanted three “regifted” kidneys from previous transplant recipients who died with their donated kidneys still healthy — breaking an unspoken taboo against using kidneys for a third time. Veale said some 25 percent of people who receive kidney transplants die with organs that are perfectly acceptable for transplant into another recipient, and he is pushing hard for other transplant centers around the nation to do the same to help ease the crushing shortage of donor kidneys.

Such transplants have been done before, but infrequently. Veale is the first surgeon focused on making the re-use of transplanted kidneys routine.

“This breaks all policies and

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