Entries in kidney (11)


Researchers Take First Step in Engineering Artificial Kidney

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have engineered an artificial kidney that they believe holds promise for shortening organ transplant waiting lists.

According to BBC News, similar studies have created simpler body parts that have already been used in patients. However, the kidney is one of the most complex organs yet engineered.

Researchers hope to reach a point where they can take an old kidney, remove the existing cells, and then rebuild the structure of the kidney with cells from a transplant patient. The belief is that this process would avoid organ rejection and increase the number of organs available for transplant.

While the potential is huge, BBC News reports that engineered kidneys have a long way to go before they become a reality. In the research at Massachusetts General Hospital, the kidney's effectiveness was measured just 5 percent of a natural kidney when it was transplanted into a laboratory rat.

According to BBC News, researchers must still prove that the engineered organs can function over extended periods of time. However, engineered windpipes and bladders have already been successfully implanted.

Over 100,000 people in the United States alone are awaiting kidney transplants, while just 18,000 receive a new organ each year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Down a Kidney? Don’t Rule Out Sports

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- If you’re born with only one kidney, you can forget about being a football star or a hockey hall-of-famer -- or at least, that’s been the conventional medical wisdom espoused for the last few decades.

But a new study found that missing a kidney shouldn’t necessarily keep kids from playing contact sports.

Researchers at the University of Utah combed data on high school athletes’ injuries reported to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, including those playing collision-prone sports like football, field hockey and basketball.  Of the more than 23,000 injuries that players sustained from 1995 to 1997, just 18 were kidney injuries.  And even those injuries were fairly mild.  None of the players had catastrophic kidney injuries that required major medical care.

Injuries to knees, eyes and heads were much more common.  Among football players, there were 64 concussions for every one kidney injury.

Dr. Matthew Grinsell, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said based on the numbers, a lot of other everyday activities are riskier for the kidneys than playing contact sports.

“It looks like bicycle riding and downhill skiing are more dangerous than football,” he said.  “And all sports are way down the list of risks compared with motor vehicle accidents.”

About one in 750 people are born without one of their kidneys, according to the National Kidney Foundation.  Others are born with a kidney that simply doesn’t work or needs to be removed because of a tumor or an abnormality in the urinary tract.

In the past, doctors have erred on the side of caution when it comes to people who have only one of an organ that usually comes in pairs, like kidneys or testicles. But Dr. Alex Diamond, an assistant professor of pediatrics and a team physician for Vanderbilt University, said doctors usually try to strike a balance between protecting vital organs and reaping the benefits of athletics when advising patients and their families.

“You don’t want to under restrict someone who could be dangerously injured, but you don’t want to over restrict someone from all the social, physical and psychological benefits of playing sports,” he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t say that all children who are down one kidney should be kept on the sidelines.  Instead, the group recommends giving these kids a “qualified yes” for sports participation after they are examined and cleared for play by a doctor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Dies While Donating Kidney to Relative

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Montefiore Hospital in New York voluntarily suspended its live donor organ transplant program after a woman who was trying to donate a kidney to a relative died during an operation, according to a hospital source.

The voluntary move by the hospital has drawn attention to the possible dangers of living organ donation, and some experts say the case may dissuade some who are contemplating becoming a live donor to follow through.

The incident, which is now under investigation by the state health department, is the first live donor operation death to occur at the hospital, according to hospital sources.

"The patient experienced a rare complication of this surgery," according to a spokeswoman for the hospital, who would not confirm details of the case.  "The doctors recognized the problem and took extensive steps to save the patient's life."

More than 900 people nationwide have participated as living donors since January 2012, according to data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.  Kidney and liver are among the most common organs donated by a living person.

"[Live organ donation] is incredibly important because there are not enough cadaver organs to go around," said Dr. Jonathon Bromberg, chief of the division of transplantation at the University of Maryland.  "Live organ donations allow us to save more lives."

Bromberg said however rare a fatal complication may be, the number of willing donors plummet when people hear about cases where a transplant goes wrong.

"We often do see a decrease in people willing to be a living or deceased donor," he said.  "We do have very direct conversations with those who are considering being a donor about the risks."

Live organ donations are among the most highly regulated procedures, not just by the hospitals but federal agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to Dr. Alan Koffron, chairman of surgery and director of the transplant program at William Beaumont hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

"It's so well controlled and so well regulated that it's typical that when something goes wrong the center shuts down to find what's wrong," said Koffron.  "We're trying to be good stewards of this procedure."  

Organs from live donors are more likely to function sooner in the recipient's body and be of better quality than an organ from a deceased donor since the live donor organ has only been out of the body for a short time.  Living donor and recipient surgeries are typically done on the same day to help preserve the organ.

Evidence also suggests that recipients of live donor organs live longer and have a better quality of life.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Kidney, Three Bodies: After Failed Transplant, Kidney Gives New Life 

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- In a medical first, a transplanted kidney rejected by one patient was successfully transplanted into another patient, according to doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Twelve years ago, Ray Fearing, 27, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease characterized by the buildup of scar tissue on the kidney. Most often found in young adults, the disease prevents harmful chemicals in the blood from filtering through the kidney.

When his disease worsened in April 2011, he was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list. His wait would not be long, just two months, after his younger sister, Cera, 21, stepped up right away to try to save her big brother.

"Before I even asked her she was ready to volunteer" her kidney, Ray Fearing said.

"It was very exciting," he said. "I'd been looking forward to it for a long time."

During routine kidney transplants, the new organ that is placed in the recipient rarely shows signs of recurring disease. But in patients with FSGS, there is a 50-percent chance that the transplanted kidney will also develop the disease.

Fearing was on the wrong side of those odds. Within two weeks of the transplant, surgeons removed his new kidney.

"I was making all these plans for the future because I would have a new kidney," said Fearing. "I was distraught and very wounded by the whole experience."

But instead of discarding the kidney -- which is routine in the event of a failed transplant -- Northwestern Memorial Hospital surgeons, with Cera Fearing's consent, decided to give the kidney another chance.

For the first time, doctors successfully re-implanted the so-called damaged kidney in another patient. Once the kidney was removed from Ray Fearing, it began to show signs of recovery from damage caused by its short-lived exposure to FSGS.

Within a few weeks, the kidney restored itself and was fully functioning in the new recipient, 67-year-old surgeon and father of five, Erwin Gomez.

"We proved for the first time that the disease is reversible in an organ once it's taken out of the body," said Dr. Lorenzo Collon, a transplant nephrologist and medical director of the kidney transplant program Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

This procedure challenges the idea that surgeons can only attempt to transplant an organ once, said Collon, whose findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Instead of removing the organ and throwing it away, if you have a good surgical background to reconstruct the vessels, you can put the kidney in someone else and it can work," said Collon.

More than 92,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the list each month, according to the National Kidney Foundation. In 2011, nearly 17,000 Americans underwent a kidney transplant.

Although transplants take place when a match is found between a donor and recipient, in some cases -- as in Fearing's -- there's still a chance the transplant may not be successful, Collon said. But recycling the transplanted kidney will give more recipients a shot within an already-limited donor pool, he said.

"It will increase the donor pool, which needs to be increased anyhow," said Collon.

Fearing was put back on dialysis and will have to wait at least a year before another transplant attempt can be made.

"I'm excited to be a part of this, even though it didn't work for me," said Fearing.

The road ahead for Fearing is complicated by the fact that the chance of his disease damaging another new kidney is even higher than 50 percent, Still, Fearing says he remains optimistic.

"I'm convinced that I should be hopeful," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Illegal Immigrant to Get New Kidney

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A dying California dad who was denied a kidney transplant because of his undocumented immigration status has been given a second chance at life.

University of California-San Francisco has agreed to operate on Jesus Navarro, an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

UCSF had originally denied surgery to Navarro in May after doctors found out he was in the country illegally, saying he couldn't provide adequate aftercare.

"UCSF was following its policy to make sure Mr. Navarro would continue to have the health insurance necessary to receive proper post-transplant follow-up," the hospital said in a joint statement from UCSF's chief medical officer, Dr. Josh Adler, and Navarro Thursday.

"Follow-up care is critical to transplant patients, who otherwise may lose the organ and become less healthy than they were on dialysis," the statement added. "UCSF regrets the misunderstanding and is committed to reviewing its processes to make sure that communication is consistent and clear with all patients, including Mr. Navarro. UCSF does not and will not discriminate on the basis of immigration status."

The decision came following a petition on that accumulated 130,000 signatures in support of Navarro's case.

The petition was started by Donald Kagan, a kidney transplant recipient whose kidney was donated by a Nicaraguan immigrant.

"Immigration status should never be a death sentence," Kagan said in a news release. said within days of the campaign launch Kagan had accumulated 130,000 supporters. He then went to UCSF Kidney Transplant Center with the petition, asking doctors to reconsider their decision.

"I am incredibly relieved that UCSF will give Jesus the kidney he needs to survive," said Kagan.

While supporters are thrilled at the recent decision, some immigration reform advocates say legal residents should be given preference when it comes to receiving an organ.

"Our view is that it is responsible to give preference to people in similar circumstances if they're citizens and legal resident of the United States," said Ira Mehlam, the national media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "This was a unique case, because he was getting a kidney directly from his wife."

Navarro, who has private health insurance, had reached the top of the donor list when doctors told him they couldn't operate. He is now expected to be at the top of the list again within three to six months.

"The success that Donald Kagan achieved in just a few days in his campaign to save a father's life demonstrates the power that each and every one of us have to make a difference," said Jackie Mahendra, director of organizing at

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kidney Donor Gives Organ to Stranger on a Whim

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Celia Oyler had never been in the hospital, never had a stitch and had never even taken a prescription drug.

But last June, the 55-year-old professor gave doctoral student John Young -- a virtual stranger -- her kidney, enduring every invasive test and eventually transplant surgery to save his life.

As Oyler tells it, her decision was rooted in compassion but executed on a whim last spring in the hallways of Teachers College Columbia University.

Oyler, director of inclusive education programs, is a white lesbian. Young, 49, is African-American and had just completed his doctorate in curriculum and teaching when they found they were a match last spring.

Live organ transplants, especially for African-Americans, are hard to come by. And Oyler was also fast approaching 60, when she would be deemed too old to donate.

Transplant experts say that "stranger" donors, though still small in numbers, are on the rise. Since 2000, they have jumped from 14 to 26 percent of all live donors, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

"I had seen John in the hall and I knew who he was, but didn't know him," said Oyler.

"I happened to see him standing there, and it was a little awkward," she said. "I asked him what he was doing and he said, 'Not much … because I have to do dialysis three or four times a week.'"

Young told her he had been cleared for an organ wait list and "maybe it would work out and after a few years I'll get a kidney on time."

"He's an extremely positive person and I am not," she said. "I am talking to this guy and I think maybe he is dying. So I very impulsively I said, 'What's your blood type?' And he said 0-positive and I said, 'Who knows, maybe we'll be a match.'"

They were -- and even learned their birthdays were a day apart.

"I didn't know her that well and was really taken aback that in just minutes she would make such a huge offer," said Young, who has now fully recovered and is off dialysis. "It was a tremendous obligation, and I was really shocked."

Oyler had always listed herself as an organ donor on her driver's license and all her family knew that she wanted her body parts used for science, but this was impetuous.

"I am kind of a jump-first, think-later person," she said.

When she returned home, Oyler realized, "What have I gotten myself into now?"

"I was actually nervous telling my wife I had made this impetuous offer," she said. "She always gives me a hard time. 'Celia, it's not like lending your car.'"

Every step of the way, the medical staff at New York's New York-Presbyterian Hospital told Oyler, "If you don't want to go through with this for any reason, we never tell the recipient, only that you're not a match."

But Oyler knew that once she had committed to Young, "I wouldn't be able to not do it."

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 4,573 kidney patients died while waiting for a life-saving transplant in 2008. Of the 14,208 organs that were donated overall in the United States that year, less than half were live organ donors like Oyler.

"As a group, live donors work better and last longer than dead donors," said Dr. David Cronin, a transplant surgeon at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "It is taken alive and passed all the evaluations and we know it's a good kidney."

Young's kidneys had begun to fail when he was 47 because of high blood pressure and diabetes. That and end-stage kidney disease is more common among African-Americans because of genetic and social factors like access to health care, according to Cronin.

Young had a long difficult recovery -- the kidney was nearly rejected at the onset.

Oyler, who had a less-invasive laproscopic procedure, was up and feeling normal within days. The only physical reminder of her gift is a two-inch scar on her bikini line.

When they woke up Oyler in the recovery room, nurses wheeled her by Young. "It was one of those moments, I felt, 'Whoa, I helped this guy get a second lease on life.'"

Now, seven months later, both Oyler and Young have healed from surgery.

"It wasn't actually that bad," said Oyler.

Transplant experts agree there are no statistical disadvantages for donors, given that they are so healthy to begin with to pass screening.

Young said he is feeling "better and better" and is more conscious of what he eats, trying to control his diabetes."

Oyler is "crazy busy," but she plans to invite Young to dinner. They have begun regular email contact since the surgery.

"It's weird to think there is a piece of my body walking around in someone else's body," she said.

Now, she tells her story to anyone who will listen -- about the importance of live kidney donation. And Young, also inspired by her act of love, has decided he, too, will offer to be a donor.

That, said Cronin, is also possible as there is an overwhelming need for other organs like lungs, hearts, skin and corneas.

In the end, Oyler's wife and her parents supported her decision.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Says Mentally Impaired Daughter Denied Transplant

Courtesy Chrissy Rivera(PHILADELPHIA) -- Amelia "Mia" Rivera has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a complex genetic disorder that causes mental and physical impairments.  If she doesn't get a kidney in the next six months to a year, her family says the 3-year-old will die.

Mia's mother, Chrissy Rivera, has said the family is willing to donate a live organ, but Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has reportedly told her that they will not recommend transplantation for the toddler because of her disabilities.

Rivera blogged about her daughter's plight last Friday, and now more than 20,000 online supporters from 15 states are petitioning the hospital to give the toddler the kidney they say she needs to survive.

"I didn't think it was going to be an issue," said Rivera, a 35-year-old high school English teacher from southern New Jersey who has two other children, aged 11 and 6.

When the family went to CHOP last week to discuss the transplant, Rivera said she, "thought we were just finding out how transplant works and how we could be a donor."

"But then, I was told we couldn't because she was mentally retarded," she said. "Those were the exact words on a piece of paper."

Rivera said the doctor also mentioned the medication that Mia would have to take for the rest of her life and "how important it was she take it -- and who would make her take it when we weren't around anymore?"

"Everyone should be treated equally," she said.  "This is outrageous."

About 35 percent of the children with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome do not survive beyond the age of 2, although several individuals have lived to adulthood.  Rivera said that Mia has about six months to a year before she will die without a kidney transplant.

Rivera also argues that medical information about the syndrome is "out-dated" and there is now "hope" that Mia could well benefit from a kidney transplant.

The hospital would not respond to questions about the Rivera case, citing privacy laws, but provided a prepared release.

"The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia does not disqualify potential transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual abilities," it wrote. "We have transplanted many children with a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual disabilities. We at CHOP are deeply committed to providing the best possible medical care to all children, including those with any form of disability."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Drug Found Effective in Treating Lupus Kidney Disorder

Comstock/Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A new study found that the drug known as CellCept is more effective at controlling a kidney disorder related to lupus than another, commonly used treatment, according to HealthDay.

CellCept, or mycophenolate, had a significantly increased success rate in preventing the kidney problem, researchers found. The study examined 227 patients with lupus ranging from ages 12 to 75.

The findings are being published in the Nov. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Philadelphia Woman Says She Was Fired for Taking Leave to Donate Kidney

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Claudia Rendon, 41, of Philadelphia, said her employer, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, fired her after she took time off to donate a kidney to her son. Rendon said the school was also trying to collect up to $2,000 from her son, a student at the school, related to his sick leave.

Rendon, who worked for a year and a half in the school's admissions office, said she notified the school that she planned to take leave on July 19 to undergo kidney transplant surgery on July 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of her 22-year-old son, Alex, whose kidney failed last January. After extensive testing in early July, Rendon was found to be a match.

"I would do it all over again. No questions asked," Rendon said.

Kidney transplant surgery normally requires at least six to eight weeks of recovery time, and Rendon said the Aviation Institute agreed to give Rendon unpaid leave until Sept. 1. Rendon told ABC News that on her last day of work before the surgery, her manager promised Rendon she would have her job upon her return, but one hour later, asked her to sign a letter acknowledging that her job was not secured.

"They said, 'If you don't sign this letter, you are abandoning your job and quitting,'" Rendon told ABC News. "I said, 'I am not abandoning my job. I am saving my son's life.'"

Rendon said she signed the letter after a superior at the company told her she was a "good employee" and would most likely have her job when she returned. Rendon said she'd taken holiday leave earlier this year related to the illnesses of family members, which included one week to bury her mother in Colombia in February.

Calls to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance's headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va., were transferred to the school in Philadelphia, where Rendon had worked. When asked if it would comment on Rendon's firing, its communications department said, "Absolutely not."

On Aug. 24, Rendon called Aviation Institute, saying she was not sure she could return to work by Sept. 1 because of severe back pain. She said the institute then asked her for a letter from the hospital.

The University of Pennsylvania hospital and her short-term disability provider each wrote letters to Rendon's employer, according to Rendon, indicating she would return to work Sept. 12.

On Sept. 8, Rendon said she made a social visit to her workplace and learned that her job was filled two days before. Rendon said the school cited business needs.

Rendon, who said she could walk only 10 to 15 minutes without assistance because of severe back pain, said she was still shocked about her firing.

"If they would have told me to come back that day, I would have done it," Rendon said.

Losing her job, Rendon said, means she can't pay for a new apartment she just moved into.

While her son has recovered from the transplant, Rendon said the school is trying to collect $2,000 related to time he took off for medical reasons. Rendon said the school is charging her son, who became a student December 2009, $150 to re-enroll, on top of the $2,000.

"[The school] told him he took too long of a leave," Rendon said.

Michael Foreman, clinical law professor and director of Penn State's Civil Rights Appellate Clinic, said Rendon's employer is not required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act because it has less than 50 employees. Rendon estimated the company had about 30 employees in the Philadelphia office.

Foreman said the state of Pennsylvania, like most other states, has its own medical leave laws, but they closely mirror federal laws.

Foreman said Rendon's surgery and medical complications could possibly be covered under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act or under Pennsylvania's disabilities law. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act applies to all public and private employers in Pennsylvania with four or more employees.

"The issue is whether her surgery and complications would constitute a physical impairment substantially limiting a major life activity. That is basically the legal definition from these laws," said Foreman.

If it's determined that it does, the employer would have to provide "reasonable accommodation" requiring an examination of how keeping the position open could harm the company's business.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exposure to Agent Orange Linked to Cancer

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(SHREVEPORT, La.) -- A new study has found that individuals who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War may be more at risk to being diagnosed with cancer.

Researchers at the Overton Brooks VAMC in Shreveport, Louisiana conducted a study and found that four percent of the 297 patients with kidney cancer between 1987 and 2009 claimed they were exposed to Agent Orange. The findings of the study were presented at an American Urological Association meeting. The study has found that a link exists between exposure to Agent Orange and various types of cancer.

Researchers say they may need to better determine if exposure to the chemicals should be considered a risk factor for kidney cancer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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