Friday, October 31, 2008

A Way To Reward Organ Donors

By Sally Satel and Benjami Hippen Forbes.com

With so many on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant, ideas keep emerging on ways to provide incentives for living donation or for people to sign donor cards and register to be a donor. The U.S. National Organ Transplant Act makes it a felony for donors to receive compensation and Sen. Specter, R-PA plans to introduce a bill in November to remove this restriction, as noted in this article.

"So here is our proposal: The government should devise a safe, regulated system in which would-be donors are offered incentives to donate a kidney--not necessarily cash payment but material reward of some kind"

A grim medical milestone has just been reached: Over 100,000 people now wait for a new kidney, liver, heart or lungs. Sadly, this is no surprise. Ever since the first successful organ transplant took place in 1954, there have never been enough organs.

Kidneys are in greatest demand. Over three-fourths of the national list comprises people waiting for one, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the entity that collects and distributes organs from the newly deceased under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Only one in four people on the list will get a kidney transplant this year. The rest will languish on dialysis while their names crawl to the top of the list--an ordeal that can take five to eight years in big cities.

Every day, eleven people die waiting for a kidney than never arrives. Tragically, they were healthy enough to benefit from a transplant when first listed. But since no friend or relative was willing or able to donate (a healthy person can live a perfectly good life with just one of his two kidneys) they had to wait for an organ from someone who died.

Some have taken matters into their own desperate hands. They rent billboards, place ads soliciting kidney donors and join online sites to find a sympathetic donor. Some even go abroad with the sickening knowledge that their new organ might come from an impoverished third world native or an executed prisoner in China.

Despite decades of public education about the virtues of donating organs after death, only half of all Americans have designated themselves as donors on their drivers' licenses. And if family members are unaware that their loved one wanted to give, they are just as likely as not to deny permission for the organs to be taken.

Last year 6,306 people gave a kidney to a loved one--the lowest number since 2000. Bless all these altruistic souls, but if we are to save thousands of lives each year policy makers must face the fact that altruism alone isn't enough.

So here is our proposal: The government should devise a safe, regulated system in which would-be donors are offered incentives to donate a kidney--not necessarily cash payment but material reward of some kind.

Creative ideas abound. Perhaps a donor could receive something as simple as lifelong health insurance. The most efficient plan would be for states to implement their own creative ways of giving a combination of incentives to donors: tax credits, tuition vouchers or a contribution to a tax-free retirement account.

Keep in mind, it would not be the sick person who reaches into his own bank account to reward the donor, rather the government would provide compensation. That way, no matter how big or modest one's income, everyone in need of a kidney would benefit. And, in keeping with the current system for distribution of organs from the newly deceased, the kidney would go to the next person in line.

Donors, of course, would receive education, undergo careful medical and psychological screening and receive quality follow-up care. Would the promise of a reward exploit poor donors who saw it as an offer they couldn't refuse? Unlikely. A months-long screening process and a non-cash reward won't appeal to those in desperate need of financial help. What they want is quick cash. And that's not what our proposal calls for.

Within such a framework, altruistic donation would proceed in parallel with a system that offers compensation. But first Congress must revise the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) so it is no longer a felony for donors to receive compensation. This would clear the way for pilot studies of incentives.

Sen. Specter, R-Pa., is circulating a draft bill called the Organ Donor Clarification Act of 2008. He plans to introduce it in November. The bill simply clarifies that NOTA had never intended to preclude government action to encourage organ donation.

Thus, if the Act passes, there will be no doubt that state-sponsored in-kind incentives, such as a tax credits for living kidney donor or funeral benefits for deceased donors, would be legal. Meanwhile, existing penalties for organ brokering are increased.

Surprisingly, a major obstacle to incentives has come from the predominant advocacy group for patients with renal failure: the National Kidney Foundation. The foundation worries that offering benefits to donors will "cheapen the gift," according to its spokesman.

We don't see it that way at all. When one of us, Sally Satel, needed a transplant two years ago and was searching for a donor, any kidney--whether its previous owner received compensation or not--would have been precious beyond measure.

The same goes for the other of us, Benjamin Hippen, a nephrologist who sees patients suffer on dialysis everyday. Some die waiting for an organ that never arrives. He wants to see more kidneys transplanted safely, no matter whether they are given by a loving friend, by a relative or by a stranger who accepts a reward for having saved the life of a stranger.

This year, thousands of Americans will die needlessly for want of an organ. We already know what isn't working. It is time to try something else.

Sally Satel is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is editor of When Altruism Isn't Enough: The Case for Compensating Kidney Donors. Benjamin Hippen is a nephrologist in Charlotte, N.C., and former member of the United Network for Organ Sharing ethics committee.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pioneering lung operation could boost transplants

Toronto General Hospital, where I received my lung transplant, is a pioneer in lung transplant research and has already performed three ex-vivo procedures as part of a study started this fall. I'm happy to see other centers adopting this approach because it will make a big difference in saving lives by getting patients off the waiting lists. Presently, only about one in five donor lungs turns out to be suitable for transplant. With this new ex-vivo procedure physicians expect that approximately three in five donor lungs will become acceptable for transplant.

From WalesOnline

“We have around 30 patients who have consented to be transplanted using ex-vivo organs and I am confident that many lives will be saved using this technique.”

A 55-YEAR-OLD man has become the first person in the UK to receive a life-saving transplant using lungs which were made to breathe outside the body, it was revealed today.

Kenneth Collins from North Wales had the pioneering ex-vivo, or outside the body, procedure during a 14-hour operation at the University Hospital of South Manchester.

The hospital’s transplant team removed lungs from a dead donor and used a machine to pump them with blood and oxygen to keep them healthy for a longer period than they would normally survive outside the body.
The lungs were then monitored and judged to be of a high enough quality to use safely in a transplant.

Previously, lungs could only be tested for suitability while they were still inside living donors in intensive care.

The new procedure means many more lungs could become available, benefiting up to 25% more patients in need of a transplant every year.

Mr Collins’ operation, which took place seven weeks ago, marks the first time the ex-vivo method has been used in the world outside Sweden.

The father-of-two said he felt “10 or 15 years younger”.

He added: “I am very grateful to the hospital and the team that I have been able to benefit from this new technique. I agreed to take part because I felt I had nothing to lose and wanted to have a transplant as soon as possible.”

Nizar Yonan, director of transplant at the hospital, said: “Mr Collins is making excellent progress and is an example of how this procedure benefits patients who may otherwise have died waiting for a transplant due to the national shortage of lungs.

“We have around 30 patients who have consented to be transplanted using ex-vivo organs and I am confident that many lives will be saved using this technique.”

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Elvis impersonator living like a king after organ transplants

Ira Masnikoff, a former Elvis impersonator, at his home in Lighthouse Point, won the “Celebration of Life’’ organ donation. Photo: CANDACE WEST/miamiherald.com

No matter how dire the future looks and how little hope there is when you think you are going to die, the lesson in this article is never give up. Masnikoff's story also highlights the importance of loved ones to help you through; his wife and family would not let him quit.

By Kirstin Maguire - McClatchy Newspapers BradentonHerald.com

Elvis is alive. At least in the form of impersonator Ira Masnikoff, 63, who would not be alive today if he had not received organ transplants.

“I’m very blessed and very lucky,” said the Lighthouse Point resident, sporting long, black sideburns, gold-rimmed glasses and an Elvis belt buckle. “Many times, the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it.”

“I was down to my last few days, hooked up to different machines,” he said. “I was just hoping I would last another day or two.”

But Masnikoff is one of the lucky ones — he received organ donations. Today, more than 100,000 people nationwide are waiting for an organ.

On Oct. 14, almost seven years after his first transplant, Masnikoff won South Florida’s “Celebration of Life” essay contest. The contest is part of an organ donation educational campaign sponsored by the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Broward County Public Libraries.

“Ira wrote about the good of organ donations; he didn’t care about prizes,” said Ken Trachy, Life Alliance’s director of special projects. “He feels so good about the transplant and donation and giving back.”

His health problems began in 2000. In four years’ time, he had three heart attacks and open-heart surgery, but “that’s all the little stuff,” Masnikoff said.

The serious illnesses flared up about seven years ago, when both of Masnikoff’s kidneys and his small intestine were failing. He gave up his stage shows and went on dialysis for more than a year, getting his nutrients from intravenous tubes.

The feeding tubes made Masnikoff sicker. He was in and out of the hospital every six weeks with infections from the IVs. “The same thing that was saving him was killing him,” said his wife of 37 years, Sandy Masnikoff. Then his skin started turning yellow. That’s when he found out he had jaundice caused by an ailing liver.

Three months later, on Jan. 9, 2002, Masnikoff’s wait was over. He and his wife received a call at 2 a.m. that a young Broward County resident who had died had organs that matched his.

“I was so happy,” Masnikoff wrote in his winning essay. “Both my wife and I had tears running down our faces driving down to the hospital.”

After a 15-hour surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he had a new kidney and small intestine.

Masnikoff stayed healthy for about five years, until his new kidney failed. Again, Masnikoff was hooked up to machines, relying on needles and tubes to keep him alive. Again, doctors put his name on the organ wait list.

Masnikoff underwent a second transplant on Dec. 7, 2007. A few weeks later, he was recovering when he came down with double pneumonia.

Scared for his life, Masnikoff battled the pneumonia in intensive care while the two people beside him died of the same sickness.

“Every day, you think you are going to die,” Masnikoff said. For the past few months, Masnikoff has been healthy. He credits his family, especially his wife, with his recovery. Many times he wanted to quit, but his wife would not let him.

“I learned what’s most important,” Sandy said, her bright blue eyes swelling with tears. “It’s not so important to have such a clean house when you know someone is depending on you.”

Good-humored, Masnikoff has come to cherish every day. Even when he was sick in the hospital, the one-time magician would put on magic shows with the nurses.

“He has a strong spirit,” said Dr. Gennaro Selvaggi, one of Masnikoff’s transplant surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “He’s been through thick and thin and always has a good attitude.”

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Heart transplant recipient finishes marathon in record time

I can certainly relate to this article in IrishTimes.com. I started and finished seven marathons (26 miles, 385 yards or 42km) before my single-lung transplant and there's no way I could do it now. So to learn that a heart transplant survivor set a record at age 44 is heartwarming and hopefully will give inspiration to thousands of other transplant recipients.

Marathon's record field brings city to its feet

"Ernesto Antonio (44) from Galway also broke a few records. Nine years ago yesterday, he was on an operating table in the Mater Hospital, undergoing a heart transplant. He had heart failure and had been given hours to live before he received a donated heart. Yesterday he finished the marathon in three hours 45 minutes..."

BRUISED FEET. Shooting leg pains. Buckets of tears. And that was just the spectators at yesterday's Lifestyle Sports-Adidas Dublin Marathon, writes Alison Healy

The runners limped home, they fell into wheelchairs, they vomited as they crossed the finish line. A woman in a Clapham Chasers vest cried in agony as she walked from the finish line to collect her medal.

But it was still worth it, said veteran runner Brian Hamilton (60) from Downpatrick. "Of course it's worth it now, isn't it? That's what it's all about, enjoying it afterwards." He had just taken part in the biggest-ever Dublin Marathon, with more than 11,700 competitors.

Not many couples can boast of coming in the first 40 in a field that size but Maria McCambridge (33) and her husband Gary Crossan (37) did just that.

She was the first Irish woman home in a time of just over two hours 36 minutes in what was a first marathon for the Olympian.

"My legs are wrecked," she laughed as her husband hugged and kissed her. "I really enjoyed it but my feet are on fire. That was the only problem I had."

Gary Crossan was the eighth Irish finisher but it wasn't such a good race for the man who has four national marathon titles. "That's me retired now," he said. "My body's breaking down all the time." Perhaps he will change his mind because the marathon does funny things to a man. The first Irish man home, Michael O'Connor (35), immediately told everyone it was his last marathon.

"I'm retired today. It's my last run," the father-of-two declared. "I've arthritis in both feet and I'm sick of it. It's time to go playing football with the young lad I think, and drink a few pints."

However, moments later he was reminiscing about previous marathons and talking about London saying: "I might talk the wife into doing another one."

For the first Irish man home, he was a modest winner. "The national title is a great thing. Someone of my ability shouldn't be getting it that handy but to be honest it's quite a feeling."

It was a day for breaking records. Limerick-based Simon Baker set a new world record for the fastest marathon on crutches when he crossed the finish line after six hours 47 minutes. He lost his right leg below the knee four years ago and when his prosthetic limb got damaged, he decided to do the 42km (26.2 miles) on crutches.

Ernesto Antonio (44) from Galway also broke a few records. Nine years ago yesterday, he was on an operating table in the Mater Hospital, undergoing a heart transplant. He had heart failure and had been given hours to live before he received a donated heart. Yesterday he finished the marathon in three hours 45 minutes, eight minutes faster than his personal best. "As far as we are aware, it's a world record for a heart transplant recipient," he said. "I'm ecstatic actually."

Since the transplant, he has taken part in a relay swim across the English Channel and finished five Olympic-distance triathlons.

He would have approved of the Killorglin Happy Hearts Group who ran, walked and hobbled to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation. More than 50 family, friends and colleagues of the late Kevin Melia competed to remember the 44-year-old who died of a heart attack last year.

Charity was also on the mind of Australian Trent Morrow. He is in the middle of a "five marathons in five weeks" charity challenge. Melbourne and Amsterdam preceded Dublin and he will now take on New York and Athens.

But for sheer bravado, it would be hard to beat Lord Iveagh, better known as Ned Guinness to his friends. He ran the race in support of the Iveagh Trust and the Diageo Water for Life programme. But instead of opting for the traditional vest and shorts, he dressed as the trademark Guinness toucan, alongside his friend Grant Muskett who dressed as a pint. They made it home in a respectable 6:04.

A marathon spokeswoman said their costumes remained intact and no beer was spilt in the completion of the marathon.

© 2008 The Irish Times

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Monday, October 27, 2008

There's nothing to fear from organ donation

Dr. Dominic Wilkinson posted the following opinion article in theage.com.au and although it's rather long for a blog post I'm including the full text because the issue of brain death versus cardiac death before organ donation is such an important and misunderstood topic.

Last week Professor Jim Tibballs, a Melbourne intensive care physician, caused controversy by publicly criticising current organ donation procedures. Professor Tibballs claimed that current practice for diagnosing death prior to organ donation is not consistent with the law. He also questioned whether people understand the circumstances in which their organs might be removed when they give consent for organ donation. Other doctors have called Professor Tibballs' comments "irresponsible" on the grounds that they might cause a significant fall in organ donation rates.

This debate highlights a paradox at the heart of consent for organ donation. We think that informed consent is of fundamental importance in organ transplantation. That means that people should know exactly what they are agreeing to when they sign on to an organ donation register. But most people who have donor cards, or who tell their families that they would like to donate, do not have this knowledge. They do not have a detailed understanding of what it would mean for their care before and after death if they were unfortunate enough to be critically ill in intensive care. And there is a tendency to gloss over some of the genuine uncertainties and controversies in the area because of a fear that public debate about how death is declared, and the processes involved in organ retrieval risks confusing and alienating potential organ donors.

In Britain, 1000 patients every year die on the waiting list for a transplant. There is a worry that the sort of debate that Professor Tibballs has initiated might lead to the preventable deaths of people desperately needing transplants.

There are several reasons why debate about organ donation could cause confusion. Organ donation usually occurs after brain death, but also takes place in some patients after so-called "cardiac death". There is variation in the criteria used for defining death between different countries and even between different hospitals.

There is disagreement between doctors, for example about whether it is ethical to give medicines like blood thinners to dying patients shortly before death to improve the chance that their organs will be able to help others.

The actual mechanics of organ donation are neither pretty nor pleasant. For donation after brain death, a patient who is connected to a breathing machine, whose heart is beating and whose body is warm, is ushered into an operating suite where his (or her) organs are removed one by one.

Donation after cardiac death requires surgeons to be present at the moment of death, and to intervene rapidly after the heart stops, so that organs do not deteriorate. The body may be flushed with cold water, or connected to a bypass machine to keep the organs viable.

It is also easy for debate about organ donation to be side-tracked by spurious issues or concerns, so some people fear that they will be killed by doctors so that their organs can be used to save others. Other people worry about being conscious and aware of their organs being removed.

My own belief is that Professor Tibballs' concerns are misplaced and overstated. The community has nothing to fear from consenting to organ donation, either for themselves or for their loved ones. In all of the intensive care units that I have worked in, in Britain and Australia, decisions about the declaration of death and the withdrawal of life support are made independently of decisions about eligibility for organ donation.

No patients, who would otherwise have survived, die in intensive care because they have consented for organ donation. Every effort is made to ensure that dying and recently deceased patients are cared for with dignity and respect. This is in accordance with national and international guidelines, and is how it should be.

But if we want to do more than just pay lip-service to the idea of consent for organ donation, then debate about transplantation and organ retrieval should be welcomed. Professor Tibballs is right in one respect - there should also be detailed information available to the community about the circumstances in which their organs may be donated, and what that involves.

There will continue to be differences of opinion about when it is permissible to donate organs, and people will hold different views about what they would like for themselves. One way that we could both respect patient autonomy, and allay community concern, would be to give individuals more than one option about organ donation when they sign on to donor registries. Some may prefer only to donate their organs if a brain scan has shown no blood flow to their brain. Others, like myself, may feel that if they were critically ill in intensive care and going to die anyway, they would want their organs to be able to help someone else - if at all possible.

After all, how often in your life do you get a chance to save the lives of up to six other people at no personal cost?

Providing choice to people who want to be able to donate their organs would be a better way of respecting their wishes, as well as allowing them to have greater control over the last moments of their life. This debate need not necessarily reduce the number of organ donors. By empowering people to have choice about the gift of life, it may encourage a greater number to talk to their family about their wishes, and to consent for organ donation.

Dr Dominic Wilkinson is a neonatologist and Nuffield Medical Research Fellow at Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Toronto World's Biggest Walk a success in the rain

Ready for the 5km walk: Group photo in the lobby of Toronto General Hospital (more photos click here)

The World's Biggest Walk for organ donation awareness and transplantation took place at the same time (noon GMT) Saturday, October 25th in cities across five continents. (For more info & links and times & locations around the world: click here)

"I didn't think anyone would show up in this rain!", said walk organizer Amy Holdorf. But more than 50 hardy people showed up at 7:30 AM dressed in rain gear and warm clothes to start walking at Toronto's time of 8 AM sharp.

Participants were from all across the organ transplant spectrum. I spoke with heart recipients, liver recipients, lung recipients and kidney recipients. Some brought their children and a few pushed baby carriages for the entire 5km walk. Many support persons, family and friends of recipients & pre-transplant patients came in spite of the weather. "How could we not show up?", said the wife of a lung transplant recipient.

Organizations with an interest in transplantation were also represented. I spoke with Louis Brill, Nova Scotia Lung Association and Brian Kellow and Kelly Monaghan representing Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario. It was very encouraging to have their support and participation.

As far as I could tell everyone finished the 5km (3 mile) walk that started and finished at Toronto General Hospital. I was amazed at how well the organ recipients did. I wondered how I would do, having only one lung to work with but I was very pleased to finish with absolutely no difficulty. Several other single-lung recipients also made it through.

The walk was to promote organ donation. There's an urgent need for organ donors. Every three days a patient dies while waiting for an organ transplant. Just look at the ratio here in Ontario, Canada of waiting list totals versus transplants performed:

Patients currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant 1740.
Kidney 1234, Liver 317, Lung 66, Heart 55, Kidney/Pancreas 38, Pancreas 23, Small Bowel 5, Heart/Lung 2.

Total transplants performed to date this year: 655.

I have a feeling, all in all, that this inaugural walk is the beginning of an annual event that will draw more participation and attention to organ donation and transplantion as time goes on.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Organ donation rules should save more lives

By the Times-Mail editorial board

Some significant changes are coming next year in the way donated human organs are allocated.

The changes mark a bold departure from the previous method, but when all the issues are weighed, it’s a plan that makes sense.

The new approach will move those who have signed on to be organ donors to the top of the list if they are ever in need of receiving an organ. The move essentially will create an “A” list and “B” list. David Undis, executive director of the LifeSharers network of organ donors, reports, “All organs will be allocated first to people on the ‘A’ list. Organs will be made available to people on the ‘B’ list only if not needed by any registered organ donor.”

The United Network for Organ Sharing reported earlier this month the United States transplant waiting list had hit 100,000 people.

Undis suggested that, in response to the new plan, “just about everyone in the United States who was not already a registered organ donor would register. The supply of transplantable organs would go way up, and thousands of lives would be saved every year. Very few people would refuse to donate their organs when they died if they knew it would reduce their chances of getting a transplant should they ever need one to live.”

Every year, Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs. And, every year, more than 8,000 Americans die because there aren’t enough organs for everyone who needs one.

Other organ donor statistics are disturbing. For instance, every year about 7,000 people are removed from the national transplant waiting list because they died waiting. In 2007, there were 28,358 organ transplants in the United States, but 48,405 people were added to the transplant waiting list. In the past 10 years, about 85,000 people have died because there weren’t enough organs to transplant.

UNOS deserves credit for taking steps to increase the number of transplantable organs that do indeed give recipients renewed lives.

Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington Law School, is entirely correct in his assessment of the matter. He said, “It is a fundamental issue of fairness that people who agree to donate organs should get priority if they need one. Thousands of people are dying needlessly every year — not because life-saving organs don’t exist, but because we don’t incent people properly to make them available in the first place.”

The coming changes force Americans to rethink their organ donor decisions. People can act immediately to become a registered donor. Those willing to donate their organs to other registered organ donors can express that interest by visiting LifeSharers.org or by calling (888) 674-2688.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Friday, October 24, 2008

Do You Believe? Two heart transplants later a PGA golfer

Hartford Courant

Erik Compton, 28, a pro golfer from Miami who has had two heart transplants, including one last May, has been granted permission by the PGA Tour to use a golf cart and take banned anti-rejection pills, and has registered to play in the first stage of the tour's qualifying school beginning Tuesday at Crandon Golf Club in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined to say how the medical review panel reached its decision, but said, "It's hard to argue with a guy who's had three hearts."

Compton, who was diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood, suffered a heart attack on the golf course Oct. 3, 2007, and frantically drove himself to the same hospital where he received his first transplant at age 12. After his 14-hour operation five months ago, he learned that his wife, Barbara, was pregnant. She's due with a girl on Feb. 26 — 17 years to the day after Compton had his first heart transplant.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rallying for Ethan, a 10-year-old Greece, New York boy in need of kidney transplant

Ethan Schreib, 6, stands next to a quilt that will be raffled at Patti’s Pantry to help pay for expenses for his kidney transplant

By Jessica Spies Greece Post, New York

Greece, N.Y. —
Ethan Schreib is on 10 different medications, has his blood drawn every few weeks and has to take growth hormones.

He suffers from polycystic kidney dysplasia and needs a kidney. He is 6.

“We cry every night,” said Ethan’s mother, Nicole. She has to give her son injections every night. “I hate doing it,” she said.

The family is finding comfort from the support they’ve received in recent weeks. Patti Haefner, the owner of Patti’s Pantry, a Dewey Avenue restaurant where Nicole is a waitress, has teamed up with a quilt maker to help the family meet financial needs.

Haefner is working with Jackie Kaspersin, who makes quilts for charity raffles under the name Jackie’s Quilts. So far, one quilt has been sold and $80 of the $120 bid is going directly to Ethan and his family. The remaining $40 is going toward more quilt materials.

“Little by little, we’re trying to find ways to have little fundraisers for Ethan,” Haefner said.
Nicole and husband, Nathan, have found two potential donors for Ethan. The best match is Nathan’s friend, Sam Lotemple.

Nicole is hopeful that Ethan’s kidney transplant will happen in January or February. Ethan and his family will travel for the transplant to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The money raised for Ethan will go toward cover some of the medical expenses not covered by insurance, the travel costs to Philadelphia for check-ups after the transplant as well as meals for the family while in Philadelphia. It may also defray lost wages for Ethan’s parents and help the donor pay for what his insurance doesn’t cover.

After Ethan gets his kidney transplant, the hard times won’t be over. Ethan may have to stay in Philadelphia for two to three months after the surgery. He’ll also have to travel back to Philadelphia throughout the next year for check ups.

Ethan, who is in first grade, has already missed some school time and will miss more. Still, Nicole is hopeful that he will advance to second grade the next year. He will be tutored while he recovers.

“The kidney is more important,” his mother said.

Nicole and her family are living day-to-day. Ethan is one of three siblings: His brother, Landon, is 5, and his brother Tristan will be 3 in December.

Nicole has brought Ethan to Patti’s Pantry a few times. During one visit he picked up pieces of paper off the floor.

“Ethan thinks he works here when he’s not feeling well — he’ll clean up,” Haefner said. “He thinks that’s his job.”

Haefner’s charitable spirit doesn’t stop with Ethan. She does food drives at Thanksgiving, has a giving tree for St. Joseph’s Villa and also has a hat and scarf tree to donate to Kiwanis.

Haefner laughs when she talks about her upcoming idea for a fundraiser. “We want to do a silent auction with mimes,” she said.

Haefner points to her “family tree” wall — it is covered in pictures. “When someone comes in, we adopt them,” she said of her close staff of six.

Among those employees is Ruth Bidwell, Haefner’s 86-year-old mother. The hostess, fondly known as “Granny,” is certain of Ethan’s fate — “He’s gonna be fine,” she said.

Contact Jessica Spies at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 265, or at jspies@messengerpostmedia.com

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Graduate student studying organ donation and transplantation

Masters student wishes to interview people in Ontario, Canada who have recieved organ transplants, who are on waiting lists, living donors, surving donor kin, and people who have signed organ donation cards

I received this email from Adrian Bertoli and am posting it here so you can review his request and respond if you are able to offer him any help.

Dear Merv,

I would like to start off by saying that as a Master's student whose thesis is on organ donation, I find your blog very informative and interesting.

My name is Adrian Bertoli and I am currently in my second year of a M.Phil in International Community Health. My thesis is titled "Organ Donation as a Cultural Phenomenon: A Canadian Context."

I feel that broader issues that fall outside of a biomedical understanding of organ donation/transplantation are under-represented in the literature. My interest in organ donation/transplantation lies with questions touching upon notions of self and social identity, citizenship and worth.

I am also interested in looking at how people involved with organ donation/transplantation view themselves and the procedure (from donation through transplant and beyond) and how the rest of society views them. I am also curious as to the various metaphorical or symbolic meanings people might ascribe to different organs.

To study this, I wish to interview people who have recieved organ transplants, who are on waiting lists, living donors, surving donor kin, and people who have signed organ donation cards. I am in the phase of looking up and establishing contacts.

I was wondering if you knew of any support groups for transplant recipients, those on waiting list, or donors and their families in the Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto or London area. Also, I feel that because of your role as an advocate, and through the maintenance of your blog it would be very interesting if we could meed to discuss the issues pertaining to my thesis. I am in Guelph, and will be around until the new year.

I look forward to hearing from you and would like very much the chance to have a discussion with you. I have included an executive summary of my research protocol for extra information. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Adrian Bertoli
a.j.bertoli@studmed.uio.no

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dad urgently needs transplant to walk me down the aisle

This articles offers some insight into the state of organ donation and transplantation in Ireland.

By Kevin Doyle Herald.ie Dublin, Ireland

A WOMAN whose father is waiting on a lung transplant has said all she wants is for him to walk her down the aisle for her upcoming wedding.

Brendan Merry (69) suffers from scarring to his lungs which is crippling the sports fanatic.

After almost two years on the transplant waiting list, and having his hopes dashed on three occasions, he now lives off two separate breathing machines.

Last weekend Brendan was taken back to hospital for treatment relating to his condition.

However, if a suitable lung were available today he could be back playing tennis and golf within months.

Pleaded

His daughter, Suzanne, has now pleaded with Health Minister Mary Harney to fast-track an organ opt-out scheme.

At a meeting with Mary Harney in Leinster House, Suzanne showed the minister a video of her ailing father.

She told the Minister for Health that it should be assumed that everybody wants to donate their organs and potentially save another life, unless they specify otherwise.

"I'm getting married next May and I hope my father gets a lung before then so that he can walk me up the aisle," she told the Herald.

Suzanne and TD Michael Kennedy (FF) handed over a compilation of research based on international studies to Department of Health officials.

On foot of the meeting, Mary Harney has given commitment to starting a period of public consultation on a new organ opt-out system before Christmas.

Once it is completed, the legislation can be brought forward by next spring.

"The amount of people who die while on the waiting list is ridiculous. More people would be alive if more organs were available," noted Suzanne.

Her father fell ill with pulmonary fibrosis in January 2007 and has been on the waiting list for more than a year now.

"He used to be very active and into sports such as tennis, rugby and golf, but now he's very restricted and has to plan ahead on everything.

"There are only two ways for him to get better - take steroids, but he was doing that and deteriorated, so now it must be a lung transplant," explained Suzanne.

"With the trauma our family is going through, obviously we're very much in support of the organ opt-out system."

Consent

Under a system of opting out, or presumed consent, every person living in the country is deemed to have given their consent to organ donation unless they have specifically opted out by recording in writing their unwillingness to give organs.

In 2007, there were 141 deceased donor kidney transplants, 59 liver, seven heart and four lung transplants. It is thought that an opt-out system could result in up to 50pc more organs being available.

Speaking about the meeting with the health minister, Dublin North TD Michael Kennedy said: "One point we made is that every hospital needs a donor co-ordinator. Only the Mater Hospital has one at the moment."

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two Lungs With Bypass Better Than One for IPF: Presented at ACS

As a single-lung transplant recipient due to IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) this article was of particular interest.

From Doctor's Guide
By Roberta Friedman, PhD

SAN FRANCISCO -- October 17, 2008 -- A retrospective review of lung transplants performed in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) at a single institution shows that patients who undergo bilateral lung transplantation with cardiopulmonary bypass gave similar survival rates as patients with single-lung transplants without bypass, and may avoid pulmonary hypertension.

The findings were presented here on October 14 by John Richards Frederick, MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

IPF is not medically treatable, and median survival is 3 years, according to Dr. Frederick.

Use of cardiopulmonary bypass might help avoid the pulmonary hypertension associated with lung transplantation, which can increase the mortality risk in these patients.

Dr. Frederick and colleagues conducted a retrospective review of records from a total of 587 lung transplant patients at the centre from 1991 to 2007. Among 105 patients who underwent lung transplantation for IPF during the last 5 years of this period, survival rates were 89% for those with bilateral lung transplant with bypass and 79% for those who received single lung transplants without bypass, an insignificant difference (P = .3).

However, in the 10 years from 1991 to 2002, single-lung transplant patients had better survival as compared with bilateral transplants (70% vs 45%; P = .16), Dr. Frederick reported.

The decrease in postoperative pulmonary arterial pressure among patients who had bilateral lung transplants with bypass was 19.5 mm Hg compared with a 4.2 mm Hg decrease in patients who had single-lung transplants without bypass (P = .02).

"Survival of patients undergoing bilateral lung transplant has approached that of the single-lung transplant population, and postoperative reduction in pulmonary arterial pressure is likely a contributing factor," the study investigators noted.

"Bilateral transplant is becoming accepted as the technique improves," Dr. Frederick said.

[Presentation title: Impact of Bilateral Lung Transplantation and Cardiopulmonary Bypass on Survival in Patients With Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Abstract S31]

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Transplant 'Tourists' at Higher Risk

This should be an alert for organ transplant candidates who are considering traveling to a foreign country for their "second chance". It's quite understandable that patients take this desperate measure when their hope starts to fade after being on waiting lists for a long time; Some kidney patients wait up to seven years for a transplant. But going to another region for a transplant can be quite risky as this article notes.

By Jody A. Charrow Renal & Urology News

PATIENTS WHO travel outside the United States for a kidney transplant—so-called transplant tourists—experience more severe post-transplant complications, including a higher incidence of acute rejection and severe infections, compared with patients who receive their transplant at a U.S. medical center, according to researchers.

Jagbar Gill, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, and his colleagues studied 33 transplant tourists and 66 patients who had renal transplant at UCLA. The patients were matched for age, race, transplant year, time on dialysis, donor type, and previous transplantation. Subjects were followed for an average of 16 months. Compared with the UCLA group, the tourists had shorter dialysis times.

A majority of the transplant tourists traveled to their region of ethnicity, with most receiving transplants in China (44%), Iran (16%), and the Philippines (13%). Approximately one month after receiving their kidneys, the tourists returned to UCLA for follow-up. Four patients required urgent hospitalization; three of these lost their grafts. In addition, 17 (52%) had infections, with nine (27%) requiring hospitalization. One patient lost her graft and died from complications related to donor-contracted hepatitis B. By comparison, 32 patients in the UCLA group (48.5%) had post-transplant infections, with only six (9%) requiring hospitalization.

The investigators noted that cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection was much more common among the tourists than the UCLA group (30% vs. 12%). “This may not be surprising because the majority of patients did not receive CMV prophylaxis until they returned to our center,” the researchers wrote.

After one year, the rate of acute rejection was 30% in the tourist group compared with only 12% of the UCLA-transplanted patients, according to a report in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2008;3:1820-1828). One-year graft survival was 89% in the tourist group and 98% for the UCLA-transplanted group, but the difference was not statistically significant. Patient survival at one year was 100% in both groups.

Dr. Gill's group noted that the higher incidence of infectious complications may reflect issues related to tourism. These include maintaining and monitoring immunosuppression during the transition of care abroad to facilities in the United States; the lack of preventive care for infections in the period immediately following transplantation; varying infectious disease characteristics of different countries; and unclear means of donor selection.

“Transplant tourism is a risky option for patients who are awaiting kidney transplantation, and its implications on public health warrant further evaluation,” the authors concluded.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Transplant no match for will to succeed

About 360 children participate in the Transplants for Children program.

By Rennie Murrell The Ranger online

Frustrated and anxious from waiting in line at the grocery store, the movies, or at a red light?

Those moments of delay are no comparison to waiting months, years, and even a lifetime for an organ or tissue transplant.

The 32 children and young adults from the Transplants for Children STARS (Striving Towards and Realizing Success) program who toured this college as part of the district's campus tour program, are experiencing or have experienced exactly those circumstances - waiting for a transplant.

Eric and Sharon Sutton, who lost a son to complications after surgery for a liver transplant, established Transplants for Children in 1986, Roddy Baker, clinical director for the program, said.

The program helps pre- and post-op transplant children and their families cope with the emotional, financial and social hurdles they encounter before, during and after transplant surgery, Baker said.

Program Director Sonia Hidalgo said the STARS program is designed for pre- and post-op transplant children ages 10-18.

"This program helps these children prepare for their future, build self-esteem and become involved in their communities," Hidalgo said.

STARS participants must attend six of nine monthly meetings, and perform eight hours of community service to complete the program, Hidalgo said.

"Once this program is completed, the children can receive a $1,000 scholarship to continue their education once the students have graduated from high school," Hidalgo said.

Baker said age does not matter, from 10 years old to 20 years old, they all want to one day attend institutes of higher learning.

"I was given a second chance to live," Steven Schiftmacher, 19, social work freshman at this college, said, "and I think my kidney transplant in 1993 was a wake-up call for me to help myself."

Schiftmacher has volunteered with the program for the past two years, he said.

"I love volunteering my time and knowledge so that I can be a mentor, assist other children, and be a shoulder for these children to lean on," Schiftmacher said.

Organ transplants can come from cadaveric donors and in some cases from living donor transplantations, an article from the Web page for the University of California-San Francisco, Kidney Transplant Program said.

About 360 children are active members of the Transplants for Children program, Baker said.

Certain requirements must be met before a child is accepted into this program, Baker said. Applicants must be from newborn to age 20 and live within 100 miles of San Antonio.

Each child has a specific medical need and the most common transplants are bone marrow, kidney, liver, heart and lung, in that order, he said.

In the hospital on her deathbed, 7-month-old Haleigh Arellano was in desperate need of a liver transplant.

Arellano, now 16, is a junior at Churchill High School, a member of the junior varsity drill team, the Unity Club, Health Organization Students of America, a junior class officer and the high school's safe school ambassador.

The doctors believed her mother's liver would be a perfect match, but after performing exploratory surgery to determine compatibility, tests revealed her mother's liver was not the match they had expected.

The infant was on her deathbed when a motor vehicle accident took the life of a 3-year-old girl. When she died, the girl was being transported to the hospital where Haleigh lay. Her liver was the perfect match, Arellano said.

The liver transplant was a success.

"I am so grateful to the donor, and I would not be alive without her," Arellano said.

She has not decided which college or university she plans to attend, and her long-term goal is to become an OB/GYN doctor, she said.

Arellano spent a summer in Costa Rica as a mentor to children in a Costa Rican government-assisted child day-care facility, Arellano said.

"My experience in Costa Rica was life changing," Arellano said. "In America, we take so much for granted; we are spoiled. I didn't realize how spoiled we are."

She also spent the summer of 2007 volunteering on the recovery floor at University Hospital as a junior volunteer, she said.

For her volunteer work, Arellano was recognized and received a presidential service award from President George W. Bush for completing 300 hours of community service, she said.

When the next president is elected, whether it's Barack Obama or John McCain, Arellano will receive another presidential award for her volunteer work in her community.

While some transplant children do not have to wait long for transplantation, there are some who wait their entire lives for the perfect match.

"I was born with a lot of problems." St. Philip's College culinary arts sophomore Juan Montoya, 23, said.

"My legs were crooked; they had to be straightened out, and I was born without functioning kidneys. I was in bad shape."

Until he was 7, Montoya had to undergo a medical procedure called peritoneal dialysis, in which a sterile solution is run through a tube into the abdominal body cavity to flush out waste products, salts and water.

It was an eight-hour procedure usually performed at night, Montoya said.

"I had a kidney transplant in 1993," Montoya said. "But my body chronically rejected the organ, and now I have hemodialysis treatments."

Hemodialysis is a procedure in which the blood is pumped through a dialyzer, cleansed and returned to the body during a three- to five-hour treatment, he said. "I'm just a normal kid, doing normal things," he said. "I love playing basketball."

Despite the critical medical conditions, many of these pre- and post-op transplant children experience each day of their lives, they are well-grounded, have a positive attitude and walk around with smiles.

More than 98,000 individuals are waiting for organs in the U.S.

More than 28,000 organ transplants are performed each year in the U.S.

A new patient is added to the waiting list every 13 minutes.

Each year, 6,500 patients will die.

For more information, go to at Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.

or the Glenda at Dawson Donate Life Texas Registry.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fourth Hand Transplant Recipient Heads Home to California

From Market Watch

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct 15, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Thanks Donor Family for New Hand

Dave Robert Armstrong, the nation's fourth hand transplant recipient headed home yesterday (Oct. 14) to Upland, California, after a three month stay in Louisville. Armstrong received a new right hand during a 14-hour surgical procedure performed by Kleinert, Kutz & Associates and University of Louisville hand surgeons on July 12, 2008 at Jewish Hospital.

"I just want to thank the donor family," says Armstrong. "Without their kindness this would have never happened. The miracle of everything working is awesome."

Armstrong's wife, Regina, and son, Christian, joined him in Louisville for his last week in town. They all flew home together yesterday.

"Dave's progress has continued to be better than our previous patients," says lead hand transplant surgeon Warren C. Breidenbach, M.D., Kleinert, Kutz & Associates. "He can make a full fist and pick up a 35-pound crate. I am very pleased with his outcome so far."

Breidenbach added, "I too would like to thank our community for their support of the hand transplant program, Kentuckiana Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) for being our partner in this program, and especially the donor family. They have given Dave an extraordinary gift of a new hand and we appreciate their special donation during a distressing time with the loss of a loved one."

Armstrong, an automotive manager, will continue to wear a brace on his new hand to allow the hand to completely heal and to control movement of the hand and fingers. He will continue hand therapy in California.

"Weekly biopsies performed on Dave's transplanted hand have shown no significant rejection," says lead transplant surgeon Kadiyala Ravindra, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at University of Louisville. "This is the first time we have seen this. The other three hand transplant patients performed here all had some type of rejection that required treatment within the first three months Dave's biopsy from last week showed a low grade rejection, which did not require treatment and cleared up on its own."

Ravindra also commented, "The success of the hand transplant program is totally due to the selfless donation by the donor families and the efforts of KODA. This is one reason why we have been the only site in the U.S. performing hand transplants."

The 18-member team that performed Armstrong's hand transplant included surgeons from Kleinert, Kutz and Associates, the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, as well as a two-member team from Anesthesiology Associates and Medical Center Anesthetists. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, an organ procurement organization, coordinated the donation of the hands for all four U.S. hand transplant recipients. The group of surgeons performing the innovative procedure also performed the world's first successful hand transplant in 1999, the nation's second in 2001 and the nation's third in 2006. To date, there have been a total of 39 hands transplanted on 31 patients around the world.

The fourth U.S. hand transplant is sponsored by the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and Office of Army Research to further research in the composite tissue allotransplantation program.

Information, high resolution photography and streaming video are available on our web site at www.handtransplant.com or www.jewishhospital.org. The photos and B-roll provide surgery footage, give a first glimpse of the patient's new hand, and a therapy session. B-roll is available upon request. Note - streaming video on the web is not broadcast quality.

SOURCE Jewish Hospital

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves



Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kidney transplant recipient and donor celebrate 25 year anniversary

We receive many requests for information about the average length of survival for various types of organ transplants. This story about a living kidney donor and her recipient who just celebrated 25 years of active lives following their historic transplant gives us something to be hopeful about.

By Monica Laganparsad The Times Johannesburg,Gauteng,South Africa

Twenty-five years ago when organ transplants were new and rare, a Durban woman took the bold step of donating her kidney to her ailing brother.

Yesterday, siblings Madanathan Reddy, 57, and Savi Pillay, 64, celebrated the 25th anniversary of their milestone transplant.

In 1983, Pillay became the country’s first kidney donor and her brother the first recipient.

“I was very sick and had a 50/50 chance of surviving. I could barely walk and without the transplant I would not be here today,” said Reddy, a father of four.

Unable to see her brother suffering, Pillay, despite her apprehension, decided to donate her kidney.

She said: “I was scared because taking an organ from one person to give to another was something strange to us.”

The siblings were flown to Cape Town’s Groote Schuur hospital for the transplant.

“My sister would not have been able to do it if it wasn’t for her late husband.

“He was supportive. Back then many husbands would not have allowed their wives to take that step. And she wasn’t a perfect match, it was about 85%, but she did it anyway” said Reddy.

Pillay said she left her three children in the care of her husband and late mother.

“My youngest son was only two years old and I left him. But I was so worried about my brother.”

Reddy said his operation took seven hours while Pillay spent four hours in surgery.

“The staff and doctors at the hospital were so wonderful ... when I flew back, they had a wheelchair waiting for me at the airport. But I refused to sit in it.

“I was perfectly fine after that,” said Reddy.

The siblings said their wheelchair-bound mother had helped to make their recovery easier.

“She prayed for our speedy recovery. She took a vow and fulfilled it until the day she died,” said Pillay.

Three months after the operation, the siblings returned to work and today both are healthy, although they have to undergo regular checkups by their doctors. They will celebrate the milestone with a small family gathering.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Michigan honors organ donors

Gift of Life to remember organ donors

From HOMETOWNlife.com

With heavy hearts that continue to heal, donor families from across Michigan will gather Sunday, Oct. 19, as Gift of Life Michigan pays tribute to last year's organ and tissue donors at the Michigan State University Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Through the generosity of donor families, 862 Michigan patients received an organ transplant last year, including 37 children. Thousands more received cornea and tissue transplants.

Donor family members will bring a personalized quilt square to add to a series of Michigan Donor Family Quilts at an open house at 1 p.m. These woven treasures symbolize the individuality and essence of their loved ones who gave the ultimate gift. There are currently 24 completed donor family quilts.

The remembrance ceremony follows at 2 p.m. and concludes with a reception.

New this year, Gift of Life Michigan will provide free, chartered bus transportation to those coming from the Detroit area. The bus will pick up families at Providence Hospital's Medical Office Building in Southfield in the morning and return later in the day. There are more than 45 donor family members planning to take the bus. With the price of gas and a weakened economy, bus service will provide families who may not otherwise attend an opportunity to honor their loved ones.

This year several pediatric transplant recipients will participate in the ceremony, assisting donor families in writing personal messages to their deceased loved ones on a large felt heart which will be carried forward to begin the ceremony. The children will also share a few words of thanks for their transplants with the donor families. Among those attending are Abigail Uranga, 12, of Ann Arbor; Sarah Gravel, 9, of Madison Heights; Marisa Hammel, 5, of Flat Rock and Shay Ziff, 4, of Bloomfield Hills.

Gift of Life Michigan is the state's only full service organ and tissue recovery organization, which acts as the intermediary between donors, physicians and hospital staff. Gift of Life Michigan, in collaboration with the Michigan Eye-Bank, provides all services necessary for organ, tissue and eye donation. To sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry or update your registration in order to receive a red heart donor sticker for the front of your driver's license or state ID, visit Gift of Life Michigan or call (800) 482-4881.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Reminding Ontarians to register their organ and tissue donation wishes and talk to their family

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I, like thousands of others, have much to be thankful for. Being given a second chance at life has been a transforming experience for me and I will be forever grateful and thankful to my donor and donor family, the surgeons and staff at Toronto General Hospital and to Trillium Gift of Life Network for finding me the new lung that saved my life. Merv.

TORONTO, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - As Thanksgiving approaches Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) is reminding all Ontarians to talk to their family about their organ and tissue donation wishes.

"Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to give thanks. I am especially grateful for all those who when faced with the tragedy of losing a loved one made the courageous decision to donate their organs and tissue and give the gift of life. This Thanksgiving please take a moment and give thanks to all organ and tissue donors who selflessly donate their loved ones organs and tissue and save hundreds of lives a year," said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN. "This holiday weekend talk to your family about your organ and tissue donation wishes."

One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of up to 75 others.

"When my four-year-old son Fraser died my world ended, but I am forever thankful that in the face of overwhelming grief my husband and I chose to donate Fraser's organs. Nothing would ease the pain and heartache from the loss of our oldest son but we had the opportunity to make a difference with what otherwise would have been such a senseless loss," said Claire Alexander, of Guelph.

"We made the choice to give another child a chance at life - an opportunity that Fraser did not have. Our decision made a difference in the lives of seven children. I have met a number of organ recipients since Fraser's death and I feel such pride that my family has played a part in giving others a second chance. I know in my heart that there are mothers smiling because of Fraser's gift and that makes my loss a little more bearable."

Today in Ontario there are 1731 people waiting for an organ transplant. Of those, 1076 are men, 633 are women and 22 are children.

Debbie Bredin is thankful everyday because of the decision her donor families made.

"Saying thank you doesn't seem enough for the magic we see everyday in our daughter Kailyn and our son Ayden. We are thankful everyday because of the brave choice someone made," said Bredin, of Ajax.

Both Kailyn and Ayden were born with the same heart defect and required life-saving heart transplants, almost immediately after birth. Kailyn received her heart transplant when she was seven months old, almost 11 years ago and Ayden received his heart transplant when he was just 20 days old, almost eight years ago.

You have the power to save a life by registering your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor. Today, you can register your wishes at an Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) office when you renew your health card.

If you have the red and white card or have recently renewed your card and did not register your wishes, you can go to the Trillium Gift of Life Network website and download an "Organ and Tissue Donor Registration" form, fill it out and mail it in to the address on the form. (see below)

Please visit our website at http://www.giftoflife.on.ca or call 416-363-4001 or toll free 1-800-263-2833.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cystic Fibrosis patients win top award for their charity to promote organ donation awareness

Emma Harris and Emily Thackray, whose charity has won a top award and been nominated for another

by Nigel Kerton The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Emma Harris has spoken of her pride after a charity she set up with a friend won a top award.

Mrs Harris, 34, of Raffin Lane, Pewsey, set up the charity Live Life Then Give Life with fellow sufferer Emily Thackray, to encourage more people to become organ donors.

The group has only been running two years but already it has picked up the Campaigning Team of the Year award from the Charity Times, a journal for UK charities, beating major and long established charities including Help The Aged.

Charity chairman Mrs Harris said: “We are absolutely overwhelmed to have won this prestigious award; it is a massive achievement for us.

“The entire team work so hard and with virtually no funding – this is the beginning of our best chapter yet.’’ Now the women have heard they are shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan magazine’s Women of the Year awards.

They have to go to the Banqueting House in London on November 5 to learn if they have won.

They have been nominated for their determination to make more people aware of the need to become organ donors.

The judges will be TV presenter Fearne Cotton, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and the singer Jamelia.

Mrs Harris and Miss Thackray, 24, both suffer with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition causing clogging off the lungs together with recurrent and severe chest infections and other complications.

For those, like Miss Thackray, who have a more severe degree of the condition the only cure was a double lung transplant.

She had just 12 months to live when the charity was launched and time was running out as it had for so many of their friends with CF.

But Miss Thackray was one of the lucky ones and in November last year she received a double lung transplant when the end of her life was nearing.

She said: “My transplant did not only save my life, it transformed it.

“I am so lucky to be here thanks to the gift of a stranger but also acutely aware that 50 per cent of the people in my situation will die due to the shortage of donors.

“Knowing that people may never even get this chance is the strongest motivation of all.”

Mrs Harris was diagnosed with CF when she was just four weeks old and has vastly reduced lung capacity although she is not currently in need of a transplant.

“My lungs are those of a person 118 years old,” said Mrs Harris who, with her husband and carer Brad, has recently become involved with Pewsey Amateur Dramatic Society and has appeared in their productions.

Mrs Harris stressed that the Live Life Then Give Life charity was set up not just for the 7,500 CF sufferers in the UK but to help everyone needing a transplant.

Its aim is to get many more people signing up as organ donors and making their families aware of their wishes so that in the event of their death there is no delay in getting their organs to people who need them.

The two women have lost more than 20 fellow sufferers who had become friends and who were waiting for organ transplants when they died.

They have already run a successful Laughter For Life event in London supported by top comic Bill Bailey.

Now they are thinking of holding Music For Life and Fashion For Life events to promote their charity.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Worlds Biggest Walk for organ donation awareness and transplantation


Saturday, October 25th 12 noon GMT - for times & locations around the world click here - A 5km walk across 5 continents at the same time to raise awareness for organ donation and transplantation (Toronto's walk starts at Toronto General Hospital - see info below)

Walk founder Australian transplant recipient Sophie Morell
read Sophie's story at theage.com.au

One step, one time, one world,
one vision, one question:
Will you walk one step at a time?

Visit the official web site at Worlds Biggest Walk

The World’s Biggest Walk is the only global event that knows no borders or state lines and has one vision. We all have a choice and a voice, through the power of our feet.

Register today and be part of a life changing event that will make a difference to someone’s life perhaps a life of someone you may not even know. Anybody can participate. Invite your friends to join you, register as many people as possible for the World’s Biggest Walk. No event currently exists in our community on a global scale, so register to be part of the World’s Biggest Walk from the start and enjoy the fun as well as the challenge.

Be part of a global event to remind your family of your intentions.

You can walk around a local park, school or town. If you like, you can trek across a desert or hike up a mountain.

Why walk 5km? Simple: 1km for each continent: Africa, Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe.

How can I participate in the Worlds Biggest Walk? Register today and be part of a life changing event that will make a difference to someone’s life perhaps a life of someone you may not even know. The Worlds Biggest Walk is FREE for anyone who wishes to participate.

Toronto's walk:
Start at Toronto General Hospital - 585 University Ave - register 7:30am
Photo 7:50am - Start 8am sharp!
Contact Amy Holdorf, 647-886-8940 - amyholdorf@txworks.ca

(Amy is Vice-President, East, Canadian Transplant Association, a kidney transplant recipient, a volunteer for Trillium Gift of Life Network, has participated in world, U.S and Canadian transplant games and is a tireless worker for organ donation awareness and transplantation. Amy is a research scientist in Toronto and is from Oskosh, Wisconsin and received her kidney from her mother. Let's have a big turnout on October 25th to show our support. Merv.)


“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Computer software developed to make organ transplants more effective

University of Toledo (Ohio) group uses computers and economics to match donors with recipients

By John Krudy Toledo Free Press


When Dr. Michael Rees sits down in a crowded coffee shop, he doesn’t see thirsty suburban professionals, or college students acting pretentious. He sees kidneys.

“Look at her,” he said pointing to a young woman in black suit, with neat, black hair. “She could need a kidney, but her family might not have a match.”

According to Rees, there are 70,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney transplant. And many of them die before they ever get a chance at a new organ.

Rees, an associate professor of urology at the University of Toledo, decided to try something new. The challenge with kidney donation is that it requires near-perfect matches of many criteria, including blood type, age and comparative health, availability and proximity of donors, and hundreds of antibodies and proteins, which must match if the recipient’s body is going to let the new organ live.

“Those proteins are like a slot machine,” Rees said. “You pull the handle, and they all have to come up right if you’re going to have a match.” The number of potential donations is n(n-1)/2, where n equals the number of pairs.

That casino-like dilemma has to be resolved before pairs can be matched. It’s especially difficult with this new method, which tries for three- or four-way organ swaps. Rees admitted he spent hours at his kitchen table trying to match pairs, but that the math required was too tedious.

The problem is one of optimization, a concept more often studied in economics classrooms than tissue labs. Those deciding who gets a kidney must determine how the greatest number of lives can be improved the most, while keeping transplants equitable, workable and just. And that’s where paired donation outperforms the usual kind.

“Imagine a set of pairs needing kidney transplants: A, B and C,” said John Kopke, a research assistant at the Institute for the Study of Health at the University of Cincinatti. “If A gives to A, but the B and C pairs aren’t compatible, you only help one person. If A gives to B, and C can exchange with A, you’re helping two people instead. And we’d all agree that’s better.”

“Look at those guys,” said Rees, pointing across the coffee shop at two men in suits. “One might want to give a kidney to the other, his brother. If they’re incompatible, why not have them swap with someone else?”

When he first started work on the paired donation project, Rees asked the University of Cincinnati to help develop the computer software. Rees’ father, Alan Rees, did early work on the software, and Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., did much of the original work on the concept. Rees even worked with economist Alvin Roth on some of the game theory and probability solutions. But Kopke now enters the data, optimizes matches and works on new versions. He said the program runs on a standard desktop computer.

“The writing of the program is actually more tedious than complicated,” he said. “I think I was the first to actually make it work, but that’s not because of any particular genius.”

Multiplying in his head, Kopke said 125 people in the database will create 15,625 permutations of matches. But myriad exclusive factors create the need for a computer’s calculating assistance.

“One donor might be able to help ten people, but he only has one kidney to give,” Kopke said. “And three things can prevent incompatibility: a blood transfusion, which developed antibodies, a mother’s reaction to her husband, by pregnancy, or a previous transplant.” Kopke estimated that such factors cause some people to be sensitized to 95 percent of the nation, and that makes the proper organ especially hard to find.

“And I have to look at those six proteins,” Kopke said. “A “close” match is a problem, because that’s enough to trigger an immune reaction.” And the computer program can rank the utility of the matches, so there’s an objective ranking for each transplant.

Kopke said that “part of the program is wrong half the time” — but every time it runs, it records what matches failed, and so can optimize better the next time. The computer, Kopke said, never makes the final decision on a transplant, so none of those failures affect the patient.

It’s the human need, the sense of charity and the chance to help that drives Rees and surgeons like him. But he points out that the costs, too, are worth considering.

“One year of dialysis costs $80,000, and the government pays for that,” Rees said. “In its first year, a transplant costs $235,000 — but there’s no dialysis cost after that. We end up saving half a million by making a transplant. Shouldn’t the government be interested in that?” Rees estimated that with 3000 transplants, the U.S. could save $1.5 billion.

Kopke said the emotion and charity of the work has reached even him, “just a programmer.

“I sit and push keys in my air conditioned office, and I don’t see the human side,” he said. “But I got to that [transplant] conference, and I saw four people who’d had the transplants. I ran up and told them, ‘you’re so brave, to be the first to do this. I have pictures of you plastered all over my cubicle.’”

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves