Wednesday, November 22, 2006

U.S. hospital pulls off quintuple kidney transplant

It took 12 surgeons, six operating rooms and five donors to pull it off, but five desperate strangers simultaneously received new organs in what hospital officials are describing as the world's first quintuple kidney transplant.
All five recipients — three men and two women — were doing fine, as were the five organ donors, all women, Eric Vohr, a spokesman at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center in Baltimore, Md., said Monday. The 10 participants came from Ontario, Maine, Maryland, West Virginia, Florida and California.

Several triple transplants have been done at Johns Hopkins, but hospital officials said the five simultaneous transplants performed last Tuesday were a first.
Four of the sick patients had approached Johns Hopkins with a relative who was willing to donate a kidney but was an incompatible donor. The fifth patient had been on a waiting list for a kidney from a dead person.
Together, those nine people and an "altruistic donor" — someone willing to give a kidney to anyone who needed it — had enough matched kidneys among them to pull off a complex, five-way swap.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of Hopkins' transplant centre and head of the transplant team, pronounced the swap "a demonstration to the rest of the country that this is what's possible when people work together."

Sheila Thornton, 63, of Edgewood, Md., said she felt "just joy, joy, it's almost inexplicable," after she learned she would receive a kidney from Sandra Loevner, 63, of Sarasota, Fla.
"That really hit home," Thornton said of receiving a lifesaving gift from a stranger. "How do you thank somebody?"
The altruistic donor, Honore Rothstein of Martinsburg, W.Va., decided to donate a kidney after losing her husband to a brain hemorrhage and her daughter to an overdose. She did not know any of the donors or recipients.
"I'm thrilled I'm giving to somebody," Rothstein said, sitting next to Kristine Jantzi, 40, of Bangor, Me., who received her kidney. "Her mom couldn't give to her, and I couldn't save my daughter."
Calls for kidney-swap programs
The operations — which involved six operating rooms, 12 surgeons, 11 anesthesiologists and 18 nurses — took place over 10 hours.
Annie Moore, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that co-ordinates U.S. organ transplants, said she wasn't aware of any other quintuple kidney transplants. Triple transplants are the biggest that have been performed up to now, and paired transplants are more common, Moore said.
Most kidney transplants use organs taken from cadavers, but doctors prefer organs from live donors because the success rates are higher.
In a live-donor practice used increasingly in the U.S. over the past few years, a patient who needs a kidney is matched up with a compatible stranger if the patient lines up a friend or relative willing to donate an organ to a stranger, too.
A man in Montreal who needs a kidney transplant is trying to force a hospital to allow him to get the organ from a stranger. In a pilot project in Vancouver, surgeons performed two kidney transplants from volunteer, anonymous donors. Each hospital in Canada that performs transplants decides its own eligibility requirements for living donors.
There have been calls for national kidney-swap programs in Canada and the U.S. to help ease the shortage of transplant organs and cut costs by getting people off dialysis.
Live-donor kidney swaps present ethical problems for some institutions since laws prohibit receiving something of value in exchange for an organ. Some institutions feel multiple arrangements come uncomfortably close to quid pro quo, Montgomery said. He called for a clarification of the U.S. law.


1 comment:

Margaret Seville said...

My sister-in-law in England is waiting six months or longer for a transplant from her husband. The reason> Getting 2 operating rooms available at the same time.

The good old U can get 6 operating rooms at the same time --- thank goodness we no longer live in England.

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