. 24/7 Space News .
More Organs A Heartbeat Away

Currently, organs are harvested from about 12,000 "brain dead" patients each year. There are about 100,000 people who are on waiting lists for organs.
By Ed Susman
Boston (UPI) Jul 26, 2006
Doctors say it is time to go "Back to the Future" and return to the way organs were originally acquired for human transplantation: waiting for a patient's heart to stop.

The vast majority of organs now used in transplantation procedures are taken from patients who have been declared "brain dead" and who have previously agreed to be an organ donor or whose relatives allow the organs of their loved ones to become a "gift of life" for deathly ill individuals.

But with organ waiting lists getting longer and longer -- and 6,000 people in the United States dying each year while on those lists -- doctors suggest that taking organs from people who die from cardiac death may be a way to save more lives.

When organ transplants were performed in the 1960s, the organs were removed when a patient's heart stopped -- usually when that person was removed from a ventilator because his or her condition was hopeless, said Howard Nathan, president of the Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia.

"We think that if we were able to get the organs from just about 20 percent of the people who die from cardiac death we might be able to save most of the people on the waiting lists," he told United Press International at the World Transplant Congress in Boston.

Nathan said that last year organs were removed from 550 cardiac-death patients. More than 1,100 organs -- mainly kidneys, livers, pancreases and lungs -- were harvested from those donors and implanted in patients with failing organs.

He said that if 20 percent of the patients who were eligible who died when taken off ventilators had their organs donated, most of the 6,000 who die while on the waiting list -- including 3,500 kidney patients -- could be saved.

Anthony D'Alessandro, professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said the cardiac-death donor organs are recovered in a precise procedure in which the attending physician of the dying patient and the transplant team are kept in separate rooms until the patient is declared dead.

"Usually when we take a person off a ventilator, their heart stops almost immediately as does their breathing," he explained at a news briefing. "We then wait up to five minutes to make sure the person does not start breathing on his own. After the person is declared dead, the transplant surgeons take over."

Nathan said he got involved with cardiac-death donors in 1995 when the parents of a 14-year-old boy who suffered massive, irreversible head injuries asked about organ donation. Although the child would never function or even breathe by himself off the ventilator, he did not meet "brain death" criteria. Nathan told the family the organs could not be donated.

He said they pleaded with him to find a way to donate the boy's kidneys and liver. Nathan discussed the situation with surgeons at the hospital and with transplant doctors and decided to go ahead with removing the organs following cardiac death.

"Both the boy's kidney and his liver were successfully removed and transplanted," Nathan told UPI. "One of the kidneys was sent to a recipient out of the area because it was a perfect match; the other organs were implanted locally."

D'Alessandro said the re-acceptance of cardiac-death organs is slowly being accomplished at transplant centers across the country, moving sort of east to west, "although we have always used those organs in our area in Wisconsin."

Currently, organs are harvested from about 12,000 "brain dead" patients each year. There are about 100,000 people who are on waiting lists for organs, he said.

D'Alessandro said that sometimes when a patient is taken off a ventilator he may continue to breathe on his own -- sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours. The longer the patient is able to breathe on his own, the less likely his organs can be used because damage to the organs continues while the patient's breathing declines.

"While some of these people continue to breathe for a while, none of these individuals ever leave the hospital," he said.

The World Transplant Congress, a joint meeting of major transplantation organizations, has drawn about 7,500 doctors, researchers and allied health professionals to Boston.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

EU Approves Stem-Cell Research
Brussels (UPI) Jul 26, 2006
The European Union has approved funding for human embryonic stem-cell research one week after U.S. President George Bush vetoed such a measure. David Sainsbury, Britain's Science minister, said the action gives Europe an opportunity to surpass the United States in such research, the Financial Times reported.

  • Bigelow Releases First Images Inside Genesis
  • China Looks To Space For Super Fruit And Vegetables
  • Iranian Woman Blazes Trail Into Space
  • Russia And Europe Agree On Joint Space Project

  • Mars Rover Team Weary But Hanging In After 900 Sols
  • Sunning Frozen Soil Could Answer Martian Life Question
  • Spirit Clears Away Dust And Loads New Software
  • Chinese Scientists Conduct Life Support Research For Living On Mars

  • Arianespace Transfers Ariane 5 ECA To Final Assembly Building
  • MetOp-A Launch Delayed Indefinitely
  • MetOp-A Launch Delayed A Second Time
  • MetOp-A Launch Delayed A Second Time

  • NASA Releases First CALIPSO Images
  • European Airborne Campaign Simulates Sentinel Imagery Over Land
  • Denver To Host International Remote Sensing Conference
  • Cardiff From Earth Space

  • Nine Years To The Ninth Planet And Counting
  • IAU Approves Names For Two Small Plutonian Moons
  • Three Trojan Asteroids Share Neptune Orbit
  • New Horizons Crosses The Asteroid Belt

  • Planet-Forming Disks Might Put Brakes On Stars
  • Astronomers See Future Supernova Developing
  • Dark And Distant Bodies Reveal Secrets Of Galactic And Stellar Formation
  • Special Case Stellar Blast Teaching Astronomers New Lessons About Cosmic Explosions

  • First Men On Moon Used Pen To Fix Lander
  • BAE and SSTL To Deliver Processor For Chandrayaan-1
  • SMART-1 Views Sulpicius Gallus
  • British Geek Wants To Buy Moon Plot With 1M-Pound Gameshow Jackpot

  • Lockheed Martin Completes Fifth Modernized GPS Satellite
  • Raytheon Completes Demonstration of Space-Based Navigation System in India
  • SENS Simplex Service Extends to Mexico
  • Cracking The Secret Codes Of The European Galileo Satellite Network

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement