ShareThis Page
News

CMU scientists use math to save lives

| Monday, June 11, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

About 4,000 people die every year waiting for kidney transplants, and Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists believe they've found a way to cut that number - using math.

A computer algorithm - a program that uses step-by-step mathematical formulas - increases the efficiency of kidney transplants. It was developed by computer science professors Tuomas Sandholm and Avrim Blum, and graduate assistant David J. Abraham.

The donations happen when a friend or loved one is willing to donate a kidney to a patient but has an incompatible blood type. The friend's kidney is offered to the national pool of 70,000 people awaiting a transplant in exchange for a compatible kidney.

Tracking down that compatible kidney can be difficult and often requires multiple kidneys exchanged between several people. That's where Carnegie Mellon's program comes into play.

The program was run in early May by the Alliance for Paired Donation, a kidney exchange program for 50 transplant centers in 15 states. It identified four potential two-way exchanges, three three-way exchanges and one four-way exchange among about 100 donor-patient pairs and seven altruistic donors. Whether any of those transplants take place depends on final compatibility testing.

A paper detailing the algorithm will be presented Friday at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Electronic Commerce in San Diego.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me