transplant ethics

even though i have this cushy research job now, i am, at heart, a critical care nurse with a special interest in liver transplants….and broadly, all transplant issues.

first, i have to state again that i am ineligble to donate. i have positive surface antibodies to hep b, this indicates a sub clinical infection, probably work related

seeing what patients go through makes me highly qualified to voice an opinion

i have posted lots of articles on my nursing page>>>>>>>>>>>>>look at the right side>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

recently though this caught my eye and to bring awareness to the subject i am posting here on  my main page.

Organ transplants using ‘risky donors’ rising

Liver transplant
More than 1,000 people die each year while waiting for a transplant

More organs from higher risk donors are being used for transplants because of a donor shortage, the BBC has learned.

Organs from patients with a history of cancer or drug abuse, elderly donors and those with serious illnesses have to be considered, say surgeons.

They say they face a dilemma of leaving people to die without a transplant or operating with organs from such donors.

The use of higher risk donors has doubled from 13% in 1998 to 26% last year, BBC Radio File on 4 was told.

An average of three patients a day are dying in the UK because of a lack of a suitable organ for transplant.

what follows is from a hepatology professor at my hospital

This means surgeons are having to use organs from donors they call “marginal”, meaning they come from the following categories: the over-70s, patients with serious illnesses, patients with a history of cancer or drug abuse, or drinkers and heavy smokers.

Professor James Neuberger, medical director of NHS Blood and Transplant, which co-ordinates the supply of organs, told File on 4: “There is no doubt that if we had more donor organs… we could be a lot more selective about those that are used.”

He added: “In some cases this is completely safe for the patient but we’re certainly seeing organs from higher risk donors being used in order to meet the ever growing need for organ transplantation.”

He said in an ideal world surgeons would not use organs that carried added risks but the alternative was more deaths of patients on the transplant waiting list.

okay, read the rest of this article here  can it get worse??? this the result of those dodgy organ donors

John Richardson and his wife, Karen, hoped a heart transplant would give him a new life.

Karen and John Richardson
John Richardson never regained consciousness after his transplant

But the 37-year-old chef never regained consciousness after receiving his new heart and died five days later on 3 August 2008.

Mrs Richardson’s grief was compounded when an inquest revealed a catalogue of risk factors that had impaired the heart her husband received, and the coroner recorded a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

“I know that he would have got better if he had had a good donor heart,” she told BBC File on 4.

She discovered the donor had committed suicide, was a smoker with several body tattoos – creating a risk of hepatitis – and a cocaine user.

Cruciallymay need a transplant keep you from making a very brave and humanitarian choice 

 she learned it had taken 15 minutes to restart the donor’s heart after he had been found hanged.

Mrs Richardson said her husband had never been told about the heart he had been going to receive and if he had known the circumstances, she does not believe he would have gone ahead with the operation.

read more here

it is not a hopeless, dangerous proposition. the uk NHS organ transplant website has lots of information

Transplants save lives

In the UK between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009:

  • 3,513 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 1,853 donors.
  • 977 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas, heart/kidney or liver/kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A total of 2,536 patients received a kidney, pancreas or combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A further 2,711 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
  • A record number of donors were living donors, 954 people donated a kidney or a segment of their liver or lung, representing more than half of all donors.
  • The highest number of non-heartbeating donor transplants took place- 579 transplants, a 35% increase on 2007-2008.
  • Living donor kidney transplants are increasing – 589 in 2005-2006, 690 in 2006-2007, 831 in 2007-2008 and 927 in 2008-2009 and now represent more than one in three of all kidney transplants.
  • At the end of March 2009, 7,877 patients were listed as actively waiting for a transplant.
  • Almost a million more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total at 31 March 2009 to 16,124,871.

in the US, organ transplant is state controlled so i would urge anyone interested to google their local blood bank/transplant register.

friday night when i worked, a 21 year old boy (i say boy after hearing his mother crying in agony) died from liver failure, we were unable to ascertain the cause and it will likely be undetermined at the coroners inquest. no evidence of drugs or alcohol. it does happen……don’t let your pre-concieved notions about why a person needs a transplant sway you from signing up.

~~~~~~~~~join your local organ register~~~~~~~~~let your family know your choice~~~~~~~~~~

4 thoughts on “transplant ethics

  1. ECD’s, (Extended Criteria Donors,) are being used more often with kidney transplants.

    Please view my web site to learn more of what I am doing to help people pursue living kidney donation.


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