Sunday, January 13, 2008

Transplant headlines

Selected headlines

First bioartificial heart may signal end of organ shortage

Breakthrough which marks the creation of the first living artificial heart could signal the beginning of the end of organ shortages, reports Roger Highfield

Doctors have stripped down and refurbished a dead heart so that it can beat again, an unprecedented feat that could signal the beginning of the end of organ shortages.

"The method could be used to grow liver, kidney, lung and pancreas, indeed virtually any organ with a blood supply"

From The Telegraph in the UK - The revolutionary research could overcome the shortage of replacement hearts and other organs, and do away with the need for antirejection drugs, according to an American team.

The world's first beating, retooled "bioartificial heart" is described today in the journal Nature Medicine by University of Minnesota researchers in research that could pave the way to a new treatment for the 22 million people worldwide who live with heart failure.

The team took a whole heart and removed cells from it. Then, with the resulting architecture, chambers, valves and the blood vessel structure intact, repopulated the structure with new cells.

"We just took nature's own building blocks to build a new organ," says Dr Harald Ott, a co-investigator who now works at Massachusetts General Hospital. "When we saw the first contractions we were speechless."

The work has huge implications: "The idea would be to develop transplantable blood vessels or whole organs that are made from your own cells," said Prof Doris Taylor, director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Repair, Minnesota, principal investigator.

The method could be used to grow liver, kidney, lung and pancreas, indeed virtually any organ with a blood supply.

She tells The Daily Telegraph that although "years away" from using the method in hospitals, she is ready to grow a human heart, though costs make it prohibitive at present. Read the full article.

Organs to be taken without consent

Gordon Brown has thrown his weight behind a move to allow hospitals to take organs from dead patients without explicit consent

From The Telegraph in the UK - the Prime Minister says that such a facility would save thousands of lives and that he hopes such a system can start this year.

The proposals would mean consent for organ donation after death would be automatically presumed, unless individuals had opted out of the national register or family members objected.

But patients' groups said that they were "totally opposed" to Mr Brown's plan, saying that it would take away patients' rights over their own bodies.

There are more than 8,000 patients waiting for an organ donation and more than 1,000 a year die without receiving the organ that could save their lives.

The Government will launch an overhaul of the system next week, which will put pressure on doctors and nurses to identify more "potential organ donors" from dying patients. Hospitals will be rated for the number of deceased patients they "convert" into donors and doctors will be expected to identify potential donors earlier and alert donor co-ordinators as patients approach death.

But Mr Brown, who carries a donor card, has made it clear he backs an even more radical revamp of the system, which would lead to donation by "presumed consent". The approach is modelled on that of Spain, which has the highest proportion of organ donors in the world.

"A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent," Mr Brown writes. Read the full article (that has links to opposing views.)

Transplant Survivor Jack Celebrates 20 Years With A New Heart

Jack Bradshaw
From the Sunday Mail in the UK - Jack Bradshaw Marks 20 Years Since Vital Transplant

A GRANDAD is celebrating after becoming one of Britain's longest surviving transplant patients - 20 years after getting his new ticker.

Jack Bradshaw, 61, only had months to live when he had the surgery in 1988.

The retired engineer is one of only a handful of heart transplant patients to have survived so long. And he cannot wait to celebrate two decades with his second ticker on Burns Night in two weeks.

Back in 1987, Jack was told he only had months to live after suffering problems following a heart attack two years earlier.

But a last-minute donor was found and he had surgery at the world-famous Papworth Hospital in Cambridge on January 25, 1988.

His return home just a month after his operation was revealed in the Sunday Mail.

Without the op, the dad-of-two would not have lived to see his grandchildren, David, 14, Calum, 10, and five-year-old Laura.

Jack, of Livingston, hopes his anniversary will encourage people to carry a donor card.

He said: "I feel like the luckiest man alive. Every day is a blessing because it could have turned out so differently.

"The doctors told my wife Janet I wouldn't see Christmas and here I am 20 years later still going strong. Read the full article.

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