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First kidney Transplant Involving Different Blood Types

Beilinson Hospital performed the country’s first kidney transplant involving a donor and recipient with different blood types.

Dr. Alexander Yusim, head of the Renal Unit and Nephrology Institute at Beilinson, said “Blood type indicators are antibodies found on red blood cells and on the internal lining of , and they attack a foreign blood type that enters the body.”

The method for neutralizing the antibodies takes at least two weeks, making it impossible to use for patients who need a new kidney immediately.

The procedure is based on technology developed a decade ago in Japan, where organs are rarely transplanted from dead bodies due to restrictions of the ancient Japanese Shinto religion. Western doctors, particularly in the United States, Germany and Sweden, subsequently began using the method.

“First the recipient’s blood is transferred into a machine that executes a blood plasma fractionation, a method whereby blood is broken up into red blood cells that are later re-inserted into the body and the blood serum which contains the antibodies that are removed from the body,” he said.

In the next stage, the patient is injected with a chemical preparation known as rituximab, which neutralizes B white blood cells that manufacture new antibodies. Doctors can implant the organ from a donor with a different blood type after the process is repeated three or four times and the number of antibodies falls to zero or nearly zero.

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