Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kidney Transplants

An amazing feat at Johns Hopkins today. They transplanted 6 kidneys into recipients simultaneously. You can read about why this happened in the following article:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/04/08/six.kidneys.ap/index.html

I want to briefly mention my thoughts on organ transplantation. As you know, there is a shortage of organs, especially livers and kidneys. Every year, thousands of people die while on the waiting list for these organs. The demand far exceeds the supply.

For the majority of patients with kidney failure who do not have a suitable match from a relative or friend, they become relegated to the miserable life of dialysis while they hope that someone, who is a good match and is an organ donor, dies in a hospital and in a manner that allows expeditious harvesting of their kidneys.

Kidney transplantation allows an individual with kidney failure a new lease on an independent life, without having the shackles of needing to spend at least 12 hours (4 hours three times weekly) in a dialysis unit for blood purification. Individuals who are eligible for peritoneal dialysis can do this procedure at home and perform exchanges of fluid into their abdominal cavity via plastic tubing and via a machine that is hooked up to the tubing overnight while the patient sleeps. Regardless, neither traditional hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis allow for a "normal" life. Kidney transplantation liberates people from these devices.

How can we increase the donor pool? My suggestions would be the following:

1. Make one's organ donation status "yes" unless one specifically requests not to be an organ donor. This is an "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" strategy.

2. Make the receiving of a kidney (or other organ) dependent on the potential recipient being an organ donor themselves. How can one expect to receive an organ from a stranger, when they have not registered to do the same for another person themselves? Since altruism doesn't seem to provide enough impetus, this type of rule would markedly encourage people to become an organ donor as an insurance policy for themselves, should they ever be in need of an organ transplant.

Do you agree?

2 comments:

Bob said...

I agree with #2 but #1.

Bob said...

oops. That should say not #1.