Monday, December 28, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I know I did. It was my third "extra" Christmas since my transplant.

Before Christmas, a friend sent me a link to the article, "A Downside of Organ Donation" (read here), which appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website telling about some of the risks transplant recipients assume due to their transplants. Transplant recipients know we may not survive the surgery, the anti-rejection drugs make us more susceptible to infection, and that the anti-rejection drugs can come with side effects such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and decreased kidney function. However, this article tells about some of the other potential problems that may develop if a donor has health issues that go undetected during the routine testing during organ recovery.

After reading the article, I believe that we need to develop better testing procedures to at a minimum reduce some of these issues and hopefully one day eliminate them. However, when those additional procedures are developed, we need to make sure they can be conducted quickly but accurately because during an organ recovery time is of the essence. Each recovered organ has a window of time in which the transplant must be completed or the organ is no longer viable. For instance, a heart is only viable for four hours from the time it is clamped off and removed from the donor till the time it is re-started in the chest of the recipient. If it takes any longer, the transplant may not be successful.

Each day over 120 Americans are added to the U.S. transplant waiting list and about 19 on that list die waiting for an organ. I could have been one of them. The need for organs for transplant continues to grow so we will have to be careful that any new testing procedures do not negatively effect the number of organs available for transplant. You can help the ones currently waiting by visiting the Donate Life America website by clicking here to learn how to register as an organ and tissue donor.
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