Hey, it’s Talia! Hope you all had a good weekend.
This weeks’ column is about Living Organ Donation. I got to ask Beth Tingle, of Jewish Hospital St. Mary’s HealthCare, a couple questions and wanted to share with you what I learned.
I hope this helps all of you understand as much as it has me.
Talia: From doing this project, it seems like most people are under the impression that you have to be deceased to donate organs.
Ms. Tingle: Certain organs can indeed be donated from living people and provide better patient outcomes.
We work with living kidney donors at Jewish Hospital Transplant. As the Living Donor Transplant Coordinator, I help the donor candidates through the entire process.
This starts with a medical history interview. Information from the medical history will help the team determine if it is safe for the candidate to donate.
Following the interview, I assist with scheduling the required medical testing and meetings with the living donor team. I also teach a living donor education class to help give the donor candidates a better understanding of all that is involved in the evaluation and surgery and what to expect after donation.
Talia: What is the first step in the living organ donor process?
Ms. Tingle: The first step in the living kidney donor process is a simple phone call to the transplant center where the recipient is being evaluated. Anonymous donors can find a list of transplant centers close to them at www.transplantliving.org.
Talia: How many people are living organ donors?
Ms. Tingle: According to the United Network for Organ Sharing there were approximately 6,200 transplants from living donors in the last five years. We do an average of 20 percent of our kidney transplants from living donors.
Our team would like to see these numbers grow because we know the surgical procedure is relatively safe for the donor and living donors provide better outcomes for our recipients.
Talia: How can someone qualify to be a living donor?
Ms. Tingle: In order to qualify for living kidney donation, a person has to be in good general health and over the age of 18.
Living donors cannot be pressured or paid for donation.
The most common things that might rule someone out as a donor are multiple kidney stones, diabetes, high blood pressure requiring more than one medication, obesity, and lack of insurance.
If the donor candidate does not have any barriers in their medical history the team will complete a thorough assessment including blood work, urine testing, x-rays, CT scans, as well as evaluations with a social worker, psychiatrist, nephrologists (kidney doctor), and transplant surgeon.
The purpose of the evaluation is to make sure the donor is healthy enough for surgery and healthy enough to live with one kidney.
Talia: How hard is it to find a living donor match?
Ms. Tingle: Donors must have a compatible blood type with the recipient. We then do tissue typing and crossmatch, which is a blood test that lets us know if the recipient has any antibodies that would injure the donated kidney. Antibodies are our natural immune response to things like blood transfusions, previous transplants, pregnancies, etc.
Talia: What are the most common types of living donor organ transplants performed?
Ms. Tingle: There are more living kidney donor transplants than any other organ. Other organs that can be transplanted from living donors include liver, lung, intestine and pancreas.
Talia: What is the benefit of receiving a transplant from a living organ donor?
Ms. Tingle: Kidneys from living donors usually work more quickly and will function longer than organs from deceased donors. Recipient’s who receive transplants from living donors usually have fewer complications and a longer lifespan.
Talia: How do you become a living organ donor? Do you have to put your name on the registry?
Ms. Tingle: To become a living kidney donor simply contact the transplant center where the intended recipient is being evaluated. If someone would like to donate anonymously at Jewish Hospital Transplant Center they may contact the Living Kidney Donor Coordinator at 502.587.4990 or call 1.800.866.7539 and choose option 5.
A complete list of transplant centers can be found by calling UNOS patient services at 1.888.894.6361.
Category: Talia’s Love 4 Life Project