Plans to join up with Australian's kidney exchange will boost the chances of New Zealand patients finding a match, a specialist says.
In a New Zealand first, three pairs of donors and recipients took part in successful three-way kidney exchange this month.
Auckland District Health Board transplant clinician Ian Dittmer said New Zealand hoped to join up with Australia's kidney exchange in the next 12 months.
"If we could join with Australia - we've done some modelling runs and we think there could be seven or eight patients who could get transplanted straight away.
He said while it was complex, the new exchange system would result in more patients having transplants.
"The more people who are in the baseline pool for a kidney exchange, the more chance there is for people who are very highly sensitised - so that's the people who we know would have cross-matches against many people, they'd have much more chance of getting transplanted.
Kidney Health New Zealand spokesperson Carmel Gregan-Ford said kidney transplants were better than keeping patients on dialysis for a long time.
"It costs around $60,000 to $70,000 per patient to be on dialysis, whereas once the transplant's done it's a much cheaper option and of course the person's returned to good health - and often if they haven't been able to work, can return to work."
Ms Gregan-Ford said she hoped the new exchange model would encourage more people to become donors.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said 147 kidney transplants were carried out in New Zealand last year, but many more hundreds of people were waiting for a kidney.