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Entries in Transplant (33)

Monday
Dec202010

Connie Culp, Recipient of First US Face Transplant, Meets Donor Family

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Since Connie Culp had her face torn off by a shotgun blast in 2004, she's measured her recovery with countless milestones. This weekend, Culp reached another, finally meeting the family of the donor who gave her a new face.

Culp, a 47-year-old mother and grandmother, underwent the first full face transplant surgery in the U.S. in Dec. 2008 at the Cleveland Clinic. Before the surgery, Culp couldn't walk down the street without drawing stares, but the transplant has given her a new chance at life.

"I don't have little kids coming up saying, 'Eww, there's a monster,'" Culp said. "They think I'm amazing. I'm just normal, but we need more people like the donors to help people."

Until now, though, Culp knew little about the woman who provided her face. Doctors would tell her only the donor's age and nothing about the surviving family.

"They've never contacted me," Culp told ABC News this past August.

But two years after losing their beloved wife and mother, the family of donor Anna Kasper was finally ready to step forward. The Kasper family decided to break their silence and share their story, hoping to raise awareness for organ donation.

Two weeks before Christmas in 2008, Anna suffered a fatal heart attack.

Two years after the trauma of losing their loved one, the Kasper family decided that they wanted to meet Connie Culp, having seen her remarkable spirit in Culp's previous interviews.

After waiting and wondering for so long, they finally met this weekend with tears and hugs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Experimental New Heart Transplant Keeps Donor Hearts Pumping

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An experimental new heart transplant procedure could change the way transplants are performed in the U.S. Instead of stopping a donor heart and putting it on ice before transplanting, doctors can now keep a human heart beating from the moment it's removed from a donor's body all the way until installation in its new recipient.

Since the first heart transplant 42 years ago, the donor organ was always stopped and kept on ice during transport and surgery. Doctors had to thaw it out first, waiting one hour for every hour that the heart was frozen.

"The normal preservation time, or time that we allow the heart to be outside of the human body, is usually six hours. Maybe the upper limit is close to eight hours," said Dr. Abbas Ardehali, a cardiac transplant surgeon with UCLA. "With this, it can go on. The upper limit is unknown, maybe up to 24 hours."

The experimental transplantation technique could mean that potential recipients won't be limited to people who happen to live nearby a donor organ.

In addition, the procedure could allow surgeons to determine right away whether the heart is viable, like a test drive outside of a body. With a frozen heart, surgeons say, it's always a guessing game, until it's too late to put a patient's old heart back.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

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

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