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Real Estate Bisnow
October 2, 2008


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With the arrival of Keith Melancon, about one-third of patients on Georgetown's kidney wait list will suddenly have a match they didn't have before. That's because when Keith joined the hospital from Hopkins this summer, he established a Paired Living Kidney Donation program. Being such a chic publication, we thought being "on the list" was a good thing, so we tracked Keith to find out why everybody wants off.


At last month's opening of the Pediatric Transplant Unit, Keith told us one-third of the 60,000 waitlisted nationally have willing but incompatible donors in their family. Often those closest to you are least compatible because of somosensitization, or when family members develop antibodies to each other at birth (mother-child only) or through transfusions. (Despite your kids' protestations, hugging grandma, while gross, does not somosensitize.) Plasmapheresis can remove the offending antibodies but only works 50% of the time. For the rest, Keith facilitates a paired transplant exchange between two families in similar predicaments. By using paired transplants and plasmapheresis, Keith says they can transplant anyone with a willing donor in their family.


Keith with Transplant Division Chief Lynt Johnson at East End's Lucky Strike bowling alley for a fundraiser last month. Keith's interest in renal failure was piqued at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, where he saw young African-American men suffering in disproportionate numbers. A subsequent fellowship at U. of Minnesota, while medically fulfilling, didn't give him a chance to address that issue. While he did see a more diverse population at Hopkins, he says the opportunity to create his own paired transplant program convinced him to join Georgetown. Another temptation: "Beating Lynt at golf."

Send story ideas to medical writer Curtis Raye.

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