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2 people receive kidney transplants in pilot program using CMU software
Date:12/14/2010

77 participating transplant programs," said Charles Alexander, OPTN/UNOS president.

Alexander said the Carnegie Mellon algorithm and Sandholm's expert advice were important parts of the pilot program. "These contributions have helped us develop the program more quickly and at significantly lower cost than we could have achieved otherwise, so we can focus on saving and enhancing lives through kidney paired-donation," he explained.

Smaller, existing kidney exchanges, which take these incompatible donor-recipient pairs and match them with other donor-recipient pairs, already have increased the number of KPD transplants. In the last three years, exchanges have enabled more than 700 kidney transplants that otherwise would not have occurred. Two of those exchanges have used the Carnegie Mellon computer algorithm to match pairs.

"The goal of the pilot project is to see whether combining the data of multiple centers and networks will generate successful matches that may not be found through one individual organization," Alexander said. "The fact that these transplants occurred from the first match run suggests this will be true."

Examining all of the possible combinations of two- and three-way exchanges between the donor-recipient pairs is a massive computational task. The first algorithm that could solve this problem optimally on a nationwide scale a projected 10,000 pairs in the pool was developed in 2006 by Sandholm, Computer Science Professor Avrim Blum and then-graduate student David J. Abraham. The algorithm has since been further refined by Sandholm and Ph.D. students Pranjal Awasthi, Erik Zawadzki and John Dickerson.

The optimization problem places a huge demand on computer memory, Sandholm said. Therefore, the algorithm never writes down the entire problem in the computer's memory. It nevertheless finds an optimal solution by formulating into memory only those parts of the problem that turn out to be relevant.

Future match runs will
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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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