New Rules Proposed for Kidney Transplants

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images/Science Photo Libra
    Kidneys filter and return to the bloodstream about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours.

    Critics of current kidney transplant rules say too many good kidneys are being wasted because it's taking too long to match the right recipient with the right donor.

    Now new rules proposed by the national Kidney Transplantation Committee are meant to streamline the process.

    New Rules Proposed for Kidney Transplants

    [DGO] New Rules Proposed for Kidney Transplants
    Critics of current kidney transplant rules say too many good kidneys are being wasted because it's taking too long to match the right recipient with the right donor. (Published Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012)

    At 64, Walter McKnight wears his cross like a badge of honor. Faith and his wife got him through a recent quadruple bypass and a kidney transplant.

    "It's amazing -- it's a miracle," he said.

    While his arm bears the scars of nine years of dialysis, McKnight says his transplant five months ago was like a rebirth for his energy - despite the daily medications.

    McKnight knew he was one of over 90,000 people on the kidney transplant list.

    Currently recipients are chosen based on how long they have been on the waiting list and how closely they match their donor.

    Now the national kidney transplant committee is proposing a revised system..

    Jonathon Fisher M.D., who works as a surgeon in the transplant center at Scripps Green Hospital, says age could become a determining factor.

    "One of the things we are trying to do with this allocation system is figuring out how to get the older kidneys into the older patients faster and get them off dialysis and try to get more out of the younger kidneys and have the younger patients take advantage of them for a longer period of time," Fisher said.

    Mcknight is a prime example, as he prepares to return to his job as a music teacher.

    After three close calls, the fourth donor was the match and he agrees with these proposed age restrictions. In fact, he felt so strongly about healthier people receiving healthier kidneys -- he didn't even ask his own children.

    "Getting a kidney from them it just seemed like it would be taking from them I just had that feeling in the back of my head," McKnight said.

    Fisher agrees that proposal makes sense. He says too many people are dying while waiting.

    "The thing about transplant is it gives people their life back. It lets them go back to work. Gives them their energy and let's them be able to travel," he said.

    Dr. Fisher says he doesn't believe there is much of a downside to these new rules. There will be a small portion of older patients who might struggle to get a healthy enough kidney.

    However, he says that there is a cost incentive here, as well. He says the price of medications for kidney recipients is about half that of dialysis.
     

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