Algorithm could lead to many more kidney transplants

A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder at at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England. As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, industry, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates.

The algorithm seeks to pair up and kind of cross-pollinate candidate/donor pairs. So let's say Donor A isn't compatible with Candidate A. And there's another pair somewhere where Donor B isn't compatible with Candidate B. But this technology can team up Donor A with Candidate B and vice versa, so everyone gets a kidney.

It can work through more connections as well (A to B, B to C, C to A) although the more degrees that are built in, the easier it is to for some kink to emerge in the system, which destroys everyone's chance of getting what they need. The algorithm also can factor in the relative health of the recipients and donors so the transplant has the highest chance of being successful in the long term.

The program recently completed a widespread pilot run and the results were very encouraging. It's hoped that the program can be implemented broadly and provide a thousand people with needed kidneys.

We speak with Elizabeth Sleeman, policy analyst at United Network for Organ Sharing about the testing process. We also talk to Dr. Tuomas Sandholm, who led the team of developers who over the course of many years was able to create this system.

Also in this show, New Yorker staff writer and general smart person Susan Orlean brings us her latest batch of app reviews. This time around, Susan talks about some of her favorite calendar apps.

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