Entries in Donor (6)


Heart Transplant Sparks Romance Between Donor’s Sister and Recipient

ABC News(SEATTLE) -- A heart transplant has sparked a romance between the donor’s sister and the recipient.

“I didn’t have any words to describe it, it was just this, you know, connection,” Erin Roberts said.

Erin’s brother, Kellen Roberts, was on a trip to Sioux Falls, S.D., when he hit his head on March 7, 2005.

The free-spirited Seattle resident, who was an organ donor, died in South Dakota.  In nearby Minneapolis, 17-year-old Connor Rabinowitz was waiting, hoping for a new heart.

“I just wish he could know how grateful I am for him,” Rabinowitz said.

The transplant was a success, and with a second chance at life, Rabinowitz said he needed to find out about the man who saved him.

When Connor and Kellen’s sister, Erin, met for the first time, they told said they fell in love instantly.

The couple shared their story with ABC News’ Seattle affiliate KOMO.

“I have it vividly in my head… just looking over, feeling her mom hug me, and just staring into her eyes,” Connor said.

For Erin, the moment was “priceless”.

“To know that a part of something you loved so much can continue on, but not just continue on in existence, but be the life force for someone else,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s any words to describe that.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Surgeon: Remove Kidneys for Transplant Before Donor's Death

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The severe shortage of viable organs for transplantation in the U.S. has led a transplant surgeon to propose harvesting kidneys from people who are not dead yet.

Dr. Paul Morrissey, an associate professor of surgery at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, wrote in The American Journal of Bioethics that the protocol known as donation after cardiac death -- meaning death as a result of irreversible damage to the cardiovascular system -- has increased the number of organs available for transplant, but has a number of limitations, including the need to wait until the heart stops.

Because of the waiting time, Morrissey said that about one-third of potential donors end up not being able to donate, and many organs turn out to not be viable as a result.

Instead, he argues in favor of procuring kidneys from patients with severe irreversible brain injury whose families consent to kidney removal before their cardiac and respiratory systems stop functioning.

"These individuals, maintained on mechanical ventilation, do not meet the criteria for brain death," he wrote. In these cases, the patient would be removed from life support and kidneys would be harvested while ensuring that the patient receives anesthesia and pain relief during the operation. After that, the patients would be kept comfortable until they have not had a pulse for five minutes, a threshold at which they are declared dead.

"Under this protocol, the donor is alive at the time of kidney recovery, but a determination has been made and confirmed by medical experts that death is imminent," he wrote.

Kidney removal, he stressed, would not cause the death of the donor, which is "instead caused foremost by the original catastrophic injury and secondarily by terminating mechanical ventilation."

In addition to providing more organs usable for transplant, Morrissey said this revised protocol would allow families to grieve in peace, since surgeons wouldn't need to rush the body into the operating room to remove organs. He said they could also take comfort in the knowledge that their loved one's death saved other lives.

A number of experts responded to Morrissey's proposal in commentaries published in the same journal. Some supported his arguments, while others expressed concern that it wouldn't be in the donor's best interests and could potentially violate medical ethics and the law.

Donald Marquis, a professor at the University of Kansas, wrote that Morrissey's argument has some validity.

Removing both kidneys, he said, "will not make the donor worse off than the donor would have been in the absence of the nephrectomy."

"Though not dead yet, they are 'as good as dead' from an ethical perspective," wrote Franklin Miller, a bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health, along with Dr. Robert Truog, a professor of medical ethics, anesthesiology and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. "No harm or wrong is committed by procuring vital organs prior to stopping life support, provided that valid consent is obtained for donation."

But removing both kidneys from a living donor would not always be in a patient's best interests.

"There is no reason to believe that registering as an organ donor involves the willingness to undergo premortem double nephrectomy," argued bioethicists Maxwell Smith of the University of Toronto, David Rodriguez-Arias of the Spanish National Research Council and Ivan Ortega of Alcala de Henares University.

And Norman Cantor, a distinguished professor of law at Rutgers School of Law, wrote that removing both kidneys before death could be legally risky.

"An organ retrieval intervention poses some hazard of accelerating death, as by hemorrhage or cardiac arrest," he said. "Any medical action potentially accelerating death, even by a few minutes and even for a gravely debilitated patient, demands a legally recognized justification."

Removing one kidney, he said, could be legally defensible, but removing both "would almost certainly be deemed unlawful under the current legal framework."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sperm Donor's 24 Kids Never Told about Fatal Illness

Courtesy Rebecca Blackwell(FREDERICK, Md.) -- Rebecca Blackwell and her 15-year-old son Tyler were curious about his sperm donor father, whose identity had been anonymous since the moment of conception.  Through good detective work, they were eventually able to find "John" three years ago.

What they didn't expect to learn was that Tyler had inherited his father's medical condition -- a connective tissue disorder called Marfan's syndrome and a heart defect that could have killed him at any moment.

Tyler's father never responded to their letter to make contact, but just last year, John's sister found the Blackwells online building on a family tree and immediately told them that John had nearly died when his aorta ruptured at the age of 43, and that two brothers and Tyler's grandmother had the genetic disorder.

John had never notified any of the three sperm banks where he had fathered at least 24 children -- 50 percent of whom could inherit the disorder.

"Tyler had a time bomb ticking in his chest," said Blackwell, a 59-year-old special education teacher and single mother from Frederick, Maryland. "It didn't occur to anyone to tell us."

Tyler, now 18, had surgery in June after doctors found a defect in his aorta, but Blackwell wonders why the fertility clinic was never required to update them on John's medical history when so many lives were in the balance.

On Friday, Washington will become the first state to grant rights to donor-conceived people to gain access to crucial health information about their biological parents.  A new law requires donors to provide, "at a minimum," identifying information and medical history to the fertility clinic.  And their offspring can seek them out when they are 18, unless the donor has signed an affidavit of nondisclosure.

Until now, offspring were not entitled to any information about their donor and medical information was rarely updated or shared among donors and recipient families.  The law is not perfect, say advocates, but the new law opens the door to national recognition of rights for these children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Severe Weather Leads to Record-Low January Blood Supply

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | American Red Cross(WASHINGTON) -- The American Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors to replenish its blood supply after the cancellation of more than 14,000 blood and platelet donations due to the severe winter weather hitting the eastern half of the United States.  The Red Cross says it has not seen such a dramatic drop in its supply in more than a decade.

"Maintaining sufficient blood to meet patient needs is a delicate balance between supply and demand," said Richard Benjamin, American Red Cross' chief medical officer.  "When severe weather disrupts that balance, the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and make up the deficit."

The American Red Cross asks that all eligible donors make an appointment to give blood or platelets by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting the Red Cross website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Transplant Surgeons Change Practices after Rare HIV Transmission

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons changed their surgical practices after reports of a rare, high-profile case of HIV and hepatitis-C transmission through organ transplant surfaced, reports MedPage Today.  In 2007, four organ recipients contracted both HIV and hepatitis-C from a single high-risk donor despite negative antibody tests done before the procedures.

Researchers surveyed more than 400 transplant surgeons and found that nearly one-third of surgeons changed their procedures for fear of legal or regulatory consequences, said the report published in Archives of Surgery.  The most common change was the avoidance altogether of high-risk donors, rather than instituting better ways of detecting viruses before transplant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bioartificial Livers Bring Researchers Closer to Solution for Organ Donor Shortages

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Researchers say they are close to their goal of "creating completely bioartificial livers" by applying human liver cells to animal liver supporting structures -- or scaffolds, according to MedPage Today.

As the number of patients in need of organ transplants continues to grow, so does the problem of finding enough eligible organ donors.  At the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases meeting, Pedro Baptista of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC said that recent statistics indicate that 109,000 people are waiting to receive organ transplants.  Of these patients, 16,000 are waiting to receive a liver.

During his talk, Baptista said that research has shown that "the cells really are able to recognize the native tissues and attach and engraft in those selected tissues."

The next step, he said, is to attempt to transplant the new organs back into the animals to observe and test function and survival.

Though Baptista hopes to oneday see "bioengineered livers that will be suitable for [human] transplant," he is not able now to forecast when these organs might become an available option to the general population.  However, he does predict that pig livers might make acceptable candidates for human transplants.

In the meantime, MedPage reports that newly engineered livers may be used for "drug discovery and development."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio