Manitobans needing a kidney transplant are set to benefit from a national registry that pairs them with living donors.

Health officials in Winnipeg announced on Wednesday that Manitoba is part of the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry, which is designed to match healthy Canadians who wish to donate a kidney to those needing a transplant.

Before the registry was created, living donors could donate only to their relatives. In many cases, the donor's kidney is not a suitable match for the recipient.

With the registry, the donor whose kidney is not compatible with the relative who needs it agrees instead to donate to an anonymous living donor. In exchange, the donor's relative receives a kidney from another donor.

The national registry began as a pilot program in 2009 in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Three Manitobans have already received new kidneys as a result of the registry, according to officials.

Kidneys from living donors last longer than those from deceased donors, they added.