Thursday, August 6, 2009
Plasmapheresis leading to more kidney transplants
There is an inspiring story on CNN where seven kidney transplants were performed over four days at Georgetown University Hospital and Washington Hospital Center. The transplant teams were led by Dr. Keith Melancon, director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program at Georgetown University Hospital, and Dr. Jimmy Light, director of transplantation services at Washington Hospital Center.
The recipients had been on dialysis. Six of the seven kidney recipients and five of the seven donors were African-American. Minority groups are at higher risk for kidney problems, but they also receive fewer kidneys because of the lack of suitable matched organs. According to CNN, the use plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, allowed all seven patients to match closely enough with their donors to allow the transplants. In plasmapheresis, a machine removes antibodies from a patient's blood that can cause organ rejection.
The use of plasmapheresis is significant, Melancon said, because it increases the chances of African-Americans to receive life-saving organs.
I know several people who have donated a kidney. Would you be willing to donate a kidney for a loved one? Probably. Would you be willing to donate a kidney for a complete stranger? Perhaps you may be motivated if someone else was willing to donate a kidney for someone you loved. This type of "kidney swap" has been known to happen. If you don't match for your loved one but someone else does, then perhaps you can donate for another individual and have someone else donate for your loved one. Seems confusing, doesn't it?