National Kidney Registry Teams with Rackspace to Make Miracle Matches

To save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure, the National Kidney Registry is dedicated to increasing the quality, speed and number of living donor transplants in the world. That mission mandates zero downtime.

National Kidney Registry
Rita and Oscar Ayub were part of a remarkable chain of kidney donors facilitated by the National Kidney Registry. Photo by John Gibbons/San Diego Union Tribune.

The National Kidney Registry is in the business of making miracle matches — facilitating kidney swaps between paired donors and paired recipients across the country. It’s all done through a paired exchange donation in which a donor gives their kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one.

The NKR team works with a voluntary network of transplant centers and hospitals to help them understand how to utilize the kidney matching system, allowing them to maximize patient transplants. While this process takes place, the systems that power the kidney recipient/donor database must be up and running — with absolutely zero downtime.

“Our logistical functions must remain up at all times, especially on the days when transplants are taking place, said NKR’s Director of Education and Development Joe Sinacore. “There are surgeons and nurses waiting on the other end for that kidney to show up, and they need to know exactly when it will show up — our system cannot go down.”

Technology fuels the exchange

The logistics behind the exchanges are complex and offer no room for error. So, it’s no surprise that NKR built its logistical management system on technology. That infrastructure powers, secures and stores its invaluable kidney recipient/donor database, facilitating, on average, 30 to 40 kidney transplants each month.

“Without technology, none of this could happen,” Sinacore said. “We could never have done this 20 years ago. But, because of technology, we can find the best matches for patients in need who have donors, getting them matched and transplanted as quickly as possible.”

Growth leads to hosted option

NKR originally launched with an on-premise solution, but the team soon realized an in-office server couldn’t sustain long-term growth. NKR decided to move to a more robust managed hosting solution.

In July 2012, the organization first moved its email system to Rackspace’s managed infrastructure. A few months later, Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern U.S., including NKR’s Long Island location. “Had we not moved our email system over to Rackspace, we would have been out of business for a week,” Sinacore said. “This really built tremendous trust between us and Rackspace to go forward from there.”

Rackspace now houses the NKR database (and its front-end website), which offers connectivity to all the transplant centers. It’s all done in a highly secure data facility that supports the registry’s mission.

“At the end of the day, when we get to go in and record a patient as transplanted, we go to sleep at night knowing that people went home with a kidney, they got off dialysis — it’s rewarding, as rewarding as it can get,” Sinacore said.

Click here to learn more about NKR’s experience.

Casey Casseb leads the Customer Reference Program at Rackspace where she's worked since 2004. She began her Rackspace career in front-line support and has worked closely with Rackspace customers since her first day on the job. In her current role, Casey highlights the ways businesses are finding success when they partner with Rackspace to tackle their toughest IT challenges.


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