Friday, October 02, 2009

Transplanting kidneys from people who had kidney failure

Kidneys recovered from deceased donors with acute kidney failure appear to work just as well as kidneys transplanted from deceased donors who do not develop kidney problems prior to organ donation, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center:
"There is a critical shortage of donor organs and we are continually making efforts to expand the donor pool," said Robert J. Stratta, M.D., professor of surgery and director of transplantation at Wake Forest Baptist and senior investigator on the study. "While kidneys from deceased donors with ARF have been considered unusable in the past, our study shows they can work quite well. The function of the new kidney may be slow or delayed - and patients may have to continue dialysis for a week or two until the kidney is up and running - but that's really the only downside. Choosing to utilize these kidneys will greatly shorten the waiting time for people who are willing to accept a kidney from this kind of donor."
Nobody should think they're too sick (or too old) to be an organ donor. People who need transplants would rather live with imperfect organs than die waiting for perfect ones.

As transplant medicine continues to advance, surgeons will continue to transplant lots of organs once thought unusable. Transplanting kidneys from people who suffered acute kidney failure will expand the supply of kidneys by about 1,000 per year. It's a shame Americans continue to bury or cremate 10,000 transplantable kidneys every year.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Hospitals honored for high organ donation rates

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today presented awards to 428 of the nation’s hospitals for their success in increasing the number of organs available for transplantation, according to a news release from the Health Resources and Services Administration. These hospitals were awarded the Department’s Medal of Honor for Organ Donation for achieving and sustaining national goals for donation, including a donation rate of 75 percent or more of eligible donors at their facilities

Kudos to all of these hospitals for converting 75% of potential organ donors into actual donors.

The national conversion rate is about 50%, which means that 50% of the organs that could have saved lives were buried or cremated instead.

There is a simple way to reduce this terrible waste -- give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

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 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 13,000 members, including members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

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