A historic and complex kidney transplant took place in the Middle East which will be talked about for ages from now. It was made possible with the efforts of making the algorithm that was done by Itai Ashlagi, a Stanford associate professor of management science and engineering, and his graduate student Sukolsak Sakshuwong.
In medical terms, the transplant that occurred is referred to as a cyclic exchange. Here, three patients received kidneys from three other healthy donors. An Israeli woman donated the kidney to a patient in Abu Dhabi. The daughter of the Emirati gave her kidney to another ailing woman of Israel. Luckily, this Israeli woman’s husband turned out to be a potential donor for the first Israeli mother who also needed a kidney.
This transplant was not called complex or historic just because of the relations among the donors but because of the political background of all of them. Despite the political differences among the donors and the patients, the transplant was carried out. This was only made possible after the signing of the Abraham Accords in August 2020.
The treaty and the collaboration of Ashlagi with the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation and Israel Transplant made the transplant happen. The algorithm developed by Ashlagi helps the donors and patients to come together as it is extremely difficult for the biological matchup to occur. People have to wait for years to find a perfect match.
The algorithm has connected volunteer donors with patients in need. Ashlagi does not charge any fee, nor any royalties are collected in return for the service. It can be made synonymous to a marketplace but without monetary expectations. Only, it brings together supply and demand, in raw terms.
Patients have the option to alter their requirements and filter their searches as they please. As a result, better exchanges are made possible. This algorithm is now used in various countries and places, including the Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, the largest single-center program (which has facilitated more than 500 transplants), and the Alliance for Paired Kidney Donation, a national program with about 30 hospitals. You can see details about the algorithm here.