Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New heart transplant program in Georgia

Great Seal of the State of GeorgiaResidents of the state of Georgia now have another option when it comes to heart transplants. Recently, Piedmont Heart Institute announced that it was beginning a heart transplant program. Piedmont Heart is waiting on final approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Then, it can begin listing patients for transplant and receive donated organs.

Until now, Georgia has only had three heart transplant centers - Emory Healthcare Center, St. Joseph's Hospital, and and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The new heart transplant center will be a big plus for the people of Georgia who need heart transplants. An article on, Piedmont Heart Institute Launches Transplant Program, states that over the 10-year period between 2000 and 2010 approximately 300 donated hearts from donors within the state went to recipients outside it. The new center will have a number of pluses including :
  • More transplant centers means more competition between them. This will encourage them to more readily access and accept donated organs increasing patients' access.
  • More transplant centers means more transplant teams. For instance, if a center's team is already doing a transplant and another organ becomes available, a team from another center could do that transplant. This would keep the organ within Georgia instead of it going out of state. Once again, it increases access for people needing heart transplants in Georgia.
  • Oftentimes, different centers have different criteria for accepting a patient for transplant. I know from my own personal experience. With more centers, if a patient doesn't meet one center's criteria, they can check with another center within the state to see if they might qualify there.
I think the biggest benefit to Georgia transplant patients is that this new transplant center will make it possible for more of them to stay closer to home for their transplants. They will likely be able to stay with the doctors and nurses they are familiar with. Once again, I know from personal experience how important that is. Transplant physicians, nurses, and their patients spend a lot of time working together towards the ultimate goal of patient survival. It's a big investment in each others lives. You become family. Being able to stay close to home and be treated by people you know and trust makes the transplant experience much easier and less stressful. Personally, I'm happy for the people of Georgia.  

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