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Positive Crossmatch and Sensitized Patients

About 30% of transplant patients are sensitized. This means that they have harmful antibodies which will attack foreign tissue, such as the transplanted organ from a living donor. These antibodies develop through a previous exposure to foreign tissue, such as through pregnancy, previous transplants, or blood transfusions. Sensitized patients may wait three to four times longer than unsensitized patients for a compatible deceased donor kidney.

To test a recipient for these antibodies, a sample of their blood is mixed with a sample of the potential donor’s blood. This test is called a “crossmatch,” and shows how a recipient’s antibodies react with the potential donor’s.

Test results can be either positive or negative. It may seem confusing at first, but a positive crossmatch means that a donor and recipient are not compatible.

Positive crossmatch ⇒ Recipient’s antibodies attack donor’s ⇒ Not suitable for transplant

Negative crossmatch ⇒ Recipient’s antibodies do not attack donor’s ⇒ Suitable for transplant

If a donor and recipient are not compatible, a transplant can still be performed. Experts at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center developed a method call plasmapheresis, which helps make a kidney more compatible for a recipient and significantly affects survival outcomes.

Contact us for more information.


Congratulations to the Kidney and Lung Programs

The Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice nationally recognized the Johns Hopkins kidney and lung transplant programs for their excellence in post-transplant survival rates, transplant rates, and mortality rates after being placed on the wait list. Congratulations!