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Therapy Modulates Highly Sensitized Immune System to Let Mother Give Kidney to Daughter

As the holidays approached last year, Soraya Kohanzadeh, 30, Muir Beach, CA, was living day to day, extremely ill, with no hope and expecting to live a shortened life// dependent on kidney dialysis. She needed a kidney transplant but because her “anti-donor” antibody levels were so high, her doctors believed that a transplant was not possible – perhaps ever. However, thanks to a specialized type of anti-rejection therapy pioneered at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Soraya successfully underwent a transplant in May of this year and has a “new lease on life” as she looks forward to 2007.

Soraya, was among the estimated 33 percent of kidney failure patients who have high “anti-donor” antibody levels and who are often told that a transplant is not possible even if a potential donor’s tissue and blood types otherwise match perfectly.

But on May 16, 2006, she received a kidney donated by her mother, Joan Lando, at Cedars-Sinai . The transplanted kidney started working immediately, both patients recovered well, and Soraya has had no episodes of rejection – the result of a therapy that makes the incompatible compatible and the impossible a reality in many cases.

Soraya had expected to live a shortened life, dependent on kidney dialysis -- a painful, expensive, time-consuming procedure that cleans blood well enough to maintain existence but not well enough to contribute to quality of life.

Physicians in the San Francisco area said transplantation was not an option because a donor organ would be rejected by her hyper-vigilant immune system – a prospect faced by about one-third of the more than 70,000 patients on the nation’s kidney transplant waiting lists. But Soraya conducted an Internet search and found that Cedars-Sinai is one of the very few centers in the nation addressing this problem.

Tissue compatibility issues exist for all patients receiving transplanted organs, but rejection risks are dramatically increased
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