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Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in a Structured Market

Alvin Roth (), Tayfun Sönmez () and Utku Unver ()

No 621, Boston College Working Papers in Economics from Boston College Department of Economics

Abstract: Patients needing kidney transplants may have willing donors who cannot donate to them because of blood or tissue incompatibility. Incompatible patient-donor pairs can exchange donor kidneys with other such pairs. The situation facing such pairs resem- bles models of the double coincidence of wants, and relatively few exchanges have been consummated by decentralized means. As the population of available patient-donor pairs grows, the frequency with which exchanges can be arranged will depend in part on how exchanges are organized. We study the potential frequency of exchanges as a function of the number of patient-donor pairs, and the size of the largest feasible exchange. Developing infrastructure to identify and perform 3-way as well as 2-way exchanges will have a substantial effect on the number of transplants, and will help the most vulnerable patients. Larger than 3-way exchanges have much smaller impact. Larger populations of patient-donor pairs increase the percentage of patients of all kinds who can find exchanges.

Keywords: efficient exchange; transplants; double coincidence of wants (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C78 D02 D63 I10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
Date: 2005-05-23
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Published as "Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in Markets with Compatibility-Based Preferences", American Economic Review, 97(3): 828-851, 2007.

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