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[IP] New hope for kidney transplants
New hope for kidney transplants
Organs harvested from cadavers can be used for transplant
MSNBC NEWS SERVICES
July 24 - Kidneys transplanted from a cadaver keep working just as long
as those taken from a brain-dead patient with a still-beating heart,
according to a Swiss study that offers a promising way to ease the
severe shortage of donor organs.
THE ABILITY to harvest the blood-filtering organs from donors
without a heartbeat could increase the supply of transplantable kidneys
- now fewer than 9,000 per year in the United States - by 30 percent,
the study said.
In 2000, about 2,800 people died while awaiting a kidney
transplant. Nearly 53,000 are currently on the waiting list in the
The study's authors, led by Dr. Markus Weber at the University
Hospital in Zurich, found that kidneys from donors without a heartbeat
can routinely be used in kidney transplantation programs, shortening
waiting times and reducing deaths among patients waiting to receive the
Currently, most transplant centers use kidneys from living donors
or people who suffered accidents that left them brain-dead. Doctors
feared that once blood stopped flowing through the kidneys, the tissue
damage that results would make the organs less likely to survive in a
In the first long-term study comparing the two approaches,
doctors at University Hospital Zurich followed nearly 250 transplant
patients for up to 15 years and found nearly identical survival rates.
At 10 years, 79 percent of patients whose kidney came from a
donor with no heartbeat were alive, as were 77 percent of patients whose
organ came from a brain-dead donor whose heart was beating.
"That tells us that we should use these 'non-heart-beating
donors,' absolutely no doubt," said Dr. Pierre-Alain Clavien, chairman
of surgery at the Swiss university. "It would save lives for sure. I
don't think it will solve the organ shortage, but it will help."
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