Thursday, October 31, 2013

U.S. transplant waiting list now over 120,000

There are now over 120,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the United States, up from 115,000 only 14 months ago. Over half of the people who need transplants will die before they get one.

Next year over 50,000 people will join the waiting list, but less than 30,000 people will receive transplants.

Only about half of adult Americans are registered organ donors. Every year, about 20,000 transplantable organs are buried or cremated instead of being donated. Every year, over 10,000 Americans die because they couldn’t get an organ transplant.

Everyone willing to receive an organ transplant to live should be willing to donate their organs after they die. Everyone can offer to donate their organs when they die, no matter what their medical history or condition. By offering their organs first to other registered organ donors, LifeSharers members create an incentive for non-donors to become donors. Membership is free and open to all at www.lifesharers.org.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

In Israel, giving organ donors priority leads to more organ donors

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post:
Giving people who registered as potential organ donors higher priority in receiving organs if they need them has significantly increased the number listed with ADI/National Transplant Center.... 
According to the center’s annual report released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday, more than 100,000 more individuals joined the registry in 2012. The total number of Israelis with ADI cards has reached an unprecedented 717,300 people. In addition, over 50 people on the ADI list who needed an organ transplant themselves received one by getting higher priority for it.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Preferred access drives 16% increase in organ donor cards in Israel

An article at Haaretz.com quantifies the increase in signed organ donor cards in Israel in the first year following announcement of a new law giving holders of organ donor cards priority access to organs. The law goes into effect in April, 2012.
The number of cardholders has considerably increased recently following a publicity campaign touting the new law. Anyone signing the card before April will be immediately eligible for the benefit, while those signing after the law goes into effect will need to wait three years for eligibility after signing. 
The number of organ donor signatures rose 71,229 during the year to a total of 632,300 while another 20,000 requests for the cards are being processed by the National Transplant Center.
That amounts to an increase of over 16% in organ donor signatures.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Preferred access causes organ donor surge in Israel

Organ donor registration is way up in Israel after organ donors were given priority access to donated organs.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Due to the population’s surge of interest in obtaining an organ donor card, the Adi-National Israel Transplant Center has extended through March 31 the deadline to register as a donor and receive special benefits. 
Anyone who registers as a potential organ donor will be eligible immediately for high priority for obtaining an organ for himself or a first-degree relative and does not have to wait for this privilege for three more years. 
The deadline was supposed to be December 31. 
During the past few weeks, Adi’s phone system has collapsed several times due to the high demand. 
Since Adi decided to give preferential treatment to those registering as a potential organ donor, tens of thousands of people have registered, raising the number of potential donors to over 600,000. Until last year, the rate of registration was among the lowest in the Western world.
The incentive to donate created by law in Israel is similar to the incentive created by LifeSharers in the United States and New Zealand.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marine saves Marine through directed organ donation

According to an AP story in Stars and Stripes:

Nicknamed "Superman" because of his chiseled 6-foot-3 frame, Marine Lt. Patrick Wayland saved his most heroic act for last. He donated a kidney to a comrade he never met.
Wayland, a flight student at Pensacola Naval Air Station, died earlier this month after his heart stopped beating during water survival training. He was already an organ donor, but while on life support, his family decided they wanted to help a fellow Marine.
A doctor who treated the 24-year-old Wayland searched the Internet for "Marine needing transplant" and found a website for Sgt. Jacob "Jake" Chadwick, who was stationed on the other side of the country at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Lt. Wayland's family used a process called "directed donation." They directed the donation of Lt. Wayland's kidney to Sgt. Chadwick. Directed donation is the same process used by LifeSharers members to direct their donations to fellow LifeSharers members.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Organ donation by default in Colorado?

A bill introduced in the Colorado legislature would change the process for renewing driver's licenses and ID cards so applicants are assumed to be organ and tissue donors unless they initial a statement that says they want to opt out, according to an Associated Press story.

People who opt out of donating their organs when they die should also opt out of receiving an organ should they ever need one to live.

Everyone can offer to donate, no matter what their medical condition is. But our transplant system lets people take without giving. It’s no wonder there’s such a large organ shortage. About 10,000 Americans die every year because there aren't enough organs for everyone who needs one. And every year Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs. That's 50% of the potential supply.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Misinformation from UNOS after confessed killer gets organ transplant

"A confessed Bronx wife-killer who destroyed his liver in a half-cocked suicide attempt blew past nearly 2,000 New Yorkers on the state's transplant list to get a new organ," reports the New York Post.

The story attempts to explain how this can happen:
Social factors -- such as wealth, fame, arrest or criminal records -- do not figure into the decision on whether to give someone an organ....

"The system is designed to save as many people as possible," said Anne Paschke, spokeswoman for the United Network of Organ Sharing, which is responsible for organ allocation in the United States.
Ms. Paschke's statement is clearly not correct. The organ allocation system is NOT designed to save as many people as possible. If UNOS wanted to save more lives, it would change its organ allocation rules to offer donated organs first to registered organ donors. This would create an incentive for non-donors to become donors. With more donors, more lives would be saved.

UNOS should have two transplant waiting lists: the "A" list for registered organ donors, and the "B" list for those who haven't agreed to donate. UNOS should offer all organs first to donors on the "A" list. Non-donors on the "B" list can have the leftovers, if there are any.

UNOS has the power to make this common-sense change. Instead, UNOS treats registered organ donors no better than it treats people who refuse to donate. Since UNOS is willfully blind to the organ donor status of potential organ recipients, about half of the organs transplanted in the United States are given to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Most of this tremendous waste would be eliminated if UNOS put organ donors first. Few Americans would refuse to donate their organs after they died if they knew it would reduce their chances of getting a transplant should they need one to live.

In the mean time, if you want to donate your organs to other registered organ donors you can join LifeSharers at http://www.lifesharers.org/.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

The shameful need for live organ donors

A man who agreed to donate part of his liver to help a sick relative died while undergoing the transplant procedure at Lahey Clinic near Boston two weeks ago, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

The generosity of live organ donors is spectacular. Imagine having a piece of your body cut out to save the life of a relative, a friend, or someone you don't even know.

It's shameful that America needs so many live organ donors. We wouldn't need so many of these incredibly brave people if Americans weren't burying or cremating 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

In the United States, about half of the people who can donate their organs after death do donate them. The other half don't. What an awful waste! Every transplantable kidney or liver that is buried or cremated means another person dies or another live donor goes under the knife.

Would people still refuse to donate their organs if affected their ability to receive an organ? Or would more people donate if it increased their chances of getting an organ if they needed one? These questions answer themselves.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national transplant waiting list, moves live organ donors up the waiting list if they need a transplant later in life. This is a good thing to do. It's fair, and it increases the number of people who are willing to donate.

UNOS should do the same thing for people who agree to donate their organs after death. It would make the organ allocation system fairer. Currently, about half of the organs transplanted in the United States are given to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. More importantly, giving organs first to registered organ donors would increase the number of donated organs. It would save more lives, and it would reduce the need for live organ donors.

UNOS has the ability to make this common-sense change to its organ allocation rules. They should make this change immediately. If they made this change today, they'd save thousands of lives next year, the year after that, and every year after that one.

Americans who want to donate their organs to other organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 13,900 members, including members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

NY presumed consent proposal: all stick no carrot

New York could be the first state that presumes everyone wants to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise, according to a story in the Washington Post. If a recently introduced bill becomes law, hospitals in New York will be able to assume you have given consent to organ donation unless you haved previously filled out an official form saying otherwise.

Only about 50% of adult Americans have signed up to donate their organs when they die. Supporters of presumed consent say it will increase the supply of transplantable organs. They say few people will opt out, since about 90% of adult Americans say they support organ donation.

Presumed consent is all stick and no carrot. If we're going to presume people are organ donors unless they opt out, we should also give people a reason to NOT opt out. Donated organs should be allocated first to those who haven't opted out. People who opt out of organ donation should go to the back of the transplant waiting list. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required.

Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at http://www.lifesharers.org/ or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

UK may move registered organ donors up the transplant waiting list

How should organ donation rates be increased in the United Kingdom? The Nuffield Council on Bioethics in London is asking the public what they think about various options. Among the options presented is giving priority for transplants to people who sign up to donate their organs when they die.

Ian Cowie writes about possible solutions to the United Kingdom's organ shortage in the Telegraph:
...offering donors priority status in the event that they may need a transplant in future looks like a reasonable compromise which could ease the current problem. NHS reliance on public altruism has failed. When demand vastly exceeds supply it may be time to consider economics as well as ethics.

Adam Smith was among the first to notice that one motivation you can always rely on is self-interest. In his classic The Wealth of Nations he observed: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
Registered organ donors in the United States can get preferred access to donated organs by joining LifeSharers. Registered organ donors in New Zealand can do the same thing. In Israel, if you and your family members get preferred access to donated organs if you sign up to donate your organs after you die.

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