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Organ Donation NEAD Chains: Paying It Forward

Each year, several thousand people die waiting for a kidney transplant. Could a new strategy that relies on altruistic donors help reduce that number?

ByJennifer Bails // Infographic by Flying Chilli // Winter 2010
NEAD Chains

Across the United States, more than 83,000 patients with end-stage renal disease await a kidney transplant. Many of these people will be on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list for more than five years until they receive a kidney from a deceased donor; each year, several thousand die waiting. To make at least a small dent in this toll, surgeons are attempting a new transplantation strategy called a nonsimultaneous, extended, altruistic-donor (NEAD) chain—a trend that began two years ago when a 28-year-old college student and father of four from Michigan donated a kidney to a stranger, simply because he could. Here’s how it works—and why not all feel it’s a good idea.

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