Sunday, January 06, 2008

Transplant Headlines

Selected headlines

It's a very happy new year for double lung transplant girl Amy

On the catwalk for Amy Holdright (right) are Campion School students staging a fashion show for cystic fibrosis charities.

From the Kenilworth Weekly News in the UK:

Inspirational transplant patient Amy Holdright has celebrated the "amazing" New Year many feared she would never see. The Whitnash 16-year-old has returned to school and her friends.

She is recovering well from her eight-hour double lung transplant in September - and was vowing to stay up until midnight to welcome in 2008 when she spoke to the Courier.

Speaking before the holidays, she told how a quiet Christmas with parents Paul and Rachael and sister Pippa would be a very different affair this time around.

With the lows of an autumn in which she became desperately ill behind her, Amy, who has cystic fibrosis, said: “I can’t wait. Last year I was on all my meds and really tired and now I’m really well. It’s going to be amazing.

“At New Year I should be able to stay up until midnight for the first time since I was little. And going back to school has been brilliant. I was getting really bored at home and really wanted to see my friends again after 12 weeks.” Read the complete story.

Baby Fintan off heart-lung machine
'Next 24 hours are critical' for 3-month-old

The Schiltz family surrounds 3 month old Fintan at Children's Memorial Hospital.
(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times)

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Fintan Schiltz, the St. Charles infant who received a heart transplant Dec. 26, was taken off a heart-lung machine Friday, although doctors say they will have to closely monitor the infant for 24 hours.

"The next 24 hours are critical to ensure that he can stay off of the heart and lung machine," said Children's Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Julie Pesch. "We hope he can sustain." Read the full article.

Lung transplant team celebrates 100pc success rate
From The Independent in Ireland:

AN Irish hospital has recorded a 100pc success rate for its specialist lung transplant service, far exceeding the international average of 76pc.

The centre at Dublin's Mater Hospital -- which is now two years old -- has successfully completed 16 transplants on patients aged between 18 and 62.

However, 14 patients have died whilst waiting for new lungs and Dr Jim Egan has called for the government to produce new legislation which would encourage more people to donate.

Dr Egan, a respiratory and transplant physician, said they are "really pleased" with the outcome of the 10 single and six double lung transplants.

He said it is "exceptional" for an emerging programme to have such a high success rate, and paid tribute to the other experts on the transplant team, Freddie Wood, Jim McCarthy and Lars Nolke.

However, he warned that the numbers receiving new lungs and being given a new lease of life is not going to grow significantly unless new legislation is introduced.

Dr Egan said the team was forced to achieve perfection from the beginning. "During the rollout we were very aware that we had to hit the ground running. There was no margin for error. We couldn't have a learning curve."

They treat three types of lung illnesses -- emphysema, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and cystic fibrosis -- and previously all patients had to travel to the UK for transplants.

However just 20pc of the organs offered to them can be used. "The lungs are the most delicate organs," said Dr Egan.

"We'd have the patient in and ready to go and the whole team set up. Then the team would go out and look at the lungs and they might say, 'we can't use these'."

Each operation has up to eight consultants on the team, including three surgeons, and another 12 nursing and theatre staff. The average cost of each operation is €100,000.

However Dr Egan cautioned that demand for organs is always greater than the supply, with 250 patients currently being treated at the specialist respiratory unit. Of those, 29 are waiting for a transplant.

"The best organ donation rates in Europe are in countries that have an 'opt out' system. I think we should seriously look at that."

The 'opt out' system means that every citizen is automatically an organ donor in the event of their death -- unless they sign documents to state they do not want to donate their organs when they die.

Dr Egan has also called on them to have separate transplant legislation rather than including it in with other legislation on organ retention.

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said tno formal decisions on transplants have been taken yet.

"For the sake of completeness, the question of legislating for consent for the donation of tissue and organs from living persons is under consideration," the spokeswoman said. Read The Independent's article.

Daughter of organ donor befriends heart recipient
From KATC TV in Louisiana:

ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Lanie Bourgeois's father died when she was a baby but she still gets to hear _ and feel _ his heart beat from time to time.

Bourgeois, a 15 year old from Prairieville, has become close to Les Whitt, who received her father's heart in a transplant nearly 14 years ago. "She's part of my family," said Whitt, 56, director of the Alexandria Zoological Park. "I'm very proud of her ... she makes me smile."

Bourgeois, who says she wants to be a veterinarian, calls Whitt "Dad." She spent a week in Alexandria over the summer and has returned for part of her holiday break from school.

It's unusual for a transplant recipient to get to know the donor family, but Bourgeois' family tracked Whitt down last year and asked to meet.

"It's really simple _ because you've got my dad's heart," Bourgeois said of why she wanted to meet.

Whitt and Bourgeois visited her father's grave site together. She placed her hand over Whitt's heart while placing flowers near the grave. Read the full story.

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