Kidney Donor Exchange

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A kidney donor exchange enables a recipient in need of a kidney transplant who has a living donor that is not compatible with them to exchange the living donor with another recipient in the same situation. Such an exchange can take the form of a cross-over exchange between two pairs of recipients and non-matching donors or it can be done as a cyclic exchange between more than two pairs. Living donor exchanges have the potential to substantially increase the number of living donations that can be carried out and thus reduce the number of patients that need expensive and painful dialysis treatment while waiting for a compatible post-mortem donation. In many countries, including the US, the Netherlands, and South Korea, such living donor exchanges already take place on a regular basis. However, the unique legal situation in Germany and the high privacy-awareness of its society at large make it difficult to carry out such donor exchanges in Germany today.

The goal of the project is the development of a distributed system that supports the finding and selecting of exchange structures between donors and recipients in the context of kidney donor exchanges in an automated, privacy-preserving, and fair fashion. In particular, we strive to develop a system that is distributed between the transplant centers and does not require any central authority or database that stores data about recipients and prospective donors. The system ensures privacy of sensitive data in the process of finding compatible donors and recipients by exchanging and computing on data in an encrypted fashion even while the possible exchange structures are determined. This second goal substantially contributes to ensuring that the system is resistant to manipulation of data to the advantage of a particular recipient. At the same time, the system will ensure fairness of the selection process taking into account the medical, ethical, and legal situation in Germany. The correctness, fairness, and security of the technical realization will be ensured by means of suitable cryptographic techniques.

The project is a joint project with Ms. Dr. Mühlfeld of the kidney transplant center of the University Hospital in Aachen and a mirrored team lead by Professor Wetzel at Stevens Institute of Technology, USA. The project is funded by the german reseach fundation DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) under the project number ME 3704/5-1.