Thursday, January 24, 2008

Organ Donation and Transplant News

Selected headlines

Stanford study finds transplant patient thrives two years after stopping immunosuppresive drugs
This news release will be of interest to those of us who must swallow up to 30 or more pills a day to prevent rejection. Although this procedure is still very experimental it offers hope for the future.

STANFORD, Calif. — Luck smiled on Larry Kowalski when his brother agreed to donate a kidney Kowalski needed to live. He was even luckier that his brother’s kidney was such a good match.

That last stroke of luck led Kowalski to connect with a team of researchers at the Stanford University School Medicine, whose efforts have enabled him for two years to live free of the heavy-duty drugs that transplant patients normally have to take for the rest of their lives.

The researchers describe Kowalski’s case in a brief report to be published in the Jan. 24 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine on the technique they developed, based on 25 years of research by Samuel Strober, MD, professor of immunology and rheumatology. The journal issue also includes two reports from other research groups, describing their efforts to achieve organ transplantation without long-term immunosuppressive drugs. Read the complete news release.

Australian doctors hail teen's transplant 'miracle'

Transplant patients and immune disease sufferers have received new hope from a 15-year-old Sydney girl hailed as a "one-in-six-billion miracle" when her body took on her liver donor's immune system.

Liver transplant recipient Demi-Lee Brennan with (l-r) Dr Stephen Alexander and Dr Stuart Dorney at Westmead Hospital in Sydney. (AAP: Paul Miller)

From ABC News - Doctors at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital say Demi-Lee Brennan has achieved "the holy grail of transplants" in the only known case of its kind.

Miss Brennan no longer has to take toxic anti-rejection drugs, which transplant patients need to consume for the rest of their lives to stop an internal fight between their new organ and their immune system.

The drugs, known as immunosuppresants, can have toxic effects on organs and cause severe infections.

Miss Brennan had an urgent transplant after a virus caused her liver to fail, potentially fatally, when she was nine years old.

But she became very ill nine months later, suffering pneumolysis - a breakdown of the red blood cells.

When tests came back, her doctors were astonished to find the girl's blood group had changed from O-negative, the same as her parents, to the donor's blood type of O-positive. Read the full story.

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