Doing the maths for the perfect match

Algorithms developed by our researchers have helped NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) tackle the complex problem of increasing the number of kidney transplants in the UK.

For people with end-stage renal failure, the most effective form of treatment is transplantation. Computing scientist Dr David Manlove is helping these patients who require a kidney transplant, and who have a willing but incompatible donor, to find an appropriate match by 'swapping' their donor with that of another patient in a similar position - a 'paired exchange'. Dr Manlove has been working with NHS Blood & Transplant since July 2008 on their kidney exchange matching scheme.

By optimising kidney exchanges, our research has increased the number of transplants from paired donation by 40% between 2008 and 2013, when measured in comparison with the number of transplants that would have been possible with previous pairing techniques.

In collaboration with Dr Gregg O'Malley at the University of Glasgow, and colleagues at NHS Blood and Transplant, Dr Manlove has designed an algorithm that can search out options for kidney exchanges from anonymous patient data covering the whole of the UK.

Dr Manlove’s work with NHSBT has translated not only into increased quality of life for patients freed from long term dialysis but will also lead to financial savings for the NHS due to patients being freed from long-term dialysis.

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