New Software Matches More Kidney Donations, Faster

Harvard economistAlvin Roth is a matchmaker but he’s not finding love – he’s finding kidneys! With support from the National Science Foundation, he and his team have developed a suite of computer programs that match living kidney donors with recipients. So, the person who needs a kidney brings someone to the table who is willing to donate a kidney. Even if those two are not a match, the donor will match someone else. Think of it as a medical version of match-dot-com, linking donors and recipients, making chains of transplants possible across the country. Roth’s team includes market designer Itai Ashlagi and operations researcher David Gamarnik at MIT and economists Utku Unver and Tayfun Sonmez at Boston College. So what are economists doing organizing kidney transplants? It turns out that an understanding of game theory and market dynamics is key to optimizing pairings. It's all about streamlining complicated matches using the science of the marketplace. Their matching software is the engine that has helped transplant centers in 30 states so far.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 2:32

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