Alvin Roth Transformed Kidney Donation System

2,000 Have Received Transplants Thanks to Nobel Economist

By Reuters

Published October 15, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

For Alvin Roth, joint winner of the 2012 Nobel prize for economics, studying the economy is about finding real-life solutions for real-life questions and never more so than in a revolutionary new system to match kidney donors with patients.

Alvin Roth
Alvin Roth

Roth and fellow laureate, the mathematician, Lloyd Shapley, have seen their groundbreaking work used in such diverse areas as matching up employers with job seekers, doctors with residency programs, and students with schools.

But arguably its greatest impact has been matching kidney donors to patients in a system that was first applied in New England hospitals under the New England Program for Kidney Exchange (NEPKE), a scheme Roth helped found in 2004-2005.

The computerized pairing of groups of donors and patients that Roth’s models inspired has revolutionized the way kidney transplants are handled in the United States and has actually increased the possible number of transplants.

Throughout the United States nearly 2,000 patients have received kidneys under the system developed on Roth and Shapley’s models that would otherwise not have received them, according to Ruthanne Hanto, who has worked with Roth since 2005 after being co-opted to manage NEPKE.

In 2003, the year before the system was implemented, there were just 19 kidney transplants from live donors in the United States nationally, said Hanto. That number rose to 34 when the system was introduced in 2004. Last year it reached 443.

“The majority have been done with some kind of computer matching,” said Hanto, who is now project manager of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a national kidney matching organization that NEPKE operations were folded into.

UNOS administers a kidney pared donor program for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, a public-private partnership established in 1984 that links all of the professionals involved in the donation and transplantation system.

“He (Roth) had a hand in having these nearly 2000 transplants occurring in some form, because without his initial work none of the others would have been able to follow,” said Hanto.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.