The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in the year 2006 there were a total of 98,263 patients listed on the organ donation waitlist within the United States, but only 14,756 organ donors. To make the situation even bleaker, there are a small number of organ recipients who receive more than just their desperately needed organ; they also receive life-threatening disease.
Within the United States, there are significantly more patients waiting for organ donation than there are organ donors. High demand causes organ procurement groups, such as the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, to race against time in order to determine which organs are safe. However, due to increased demand, the desperate need for organs, and time restraints corner-cutting has also increased, which leads to increased instances of failure within the organ-sharing network.
Dr. Michael Nalesnik, Vice Chairman of the Disease Transmission Advisory Committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, claims that transmission of disease from donor to recipient occurs less than one percent of the time. This means that with the more than 28,000 transplants nationwide per year, there are fewer than 280 instances where disease is transferred from donor to recipient.
There are minimum procurement standards that outline the appropriate medical tests and examinations before an organ is accepted for transplantation. However, the nature of the standards leave wide discretion to over 50 organ procurement groups that assess organs used for transplantation. Another problem is that these assessments are made with the clock ticking, in order to ensure that they reach the recipient in as little time as possible and to prevent the organs from perishing. This could result in organs being rushed through tests and examinations, or organs skipping tests and examinations, which could result in further injury to patients that are already in dire straits. Transplant surgeons also have the discretion to reject and organ, which is a decision that is sometimes made when there is limited information about a donor.
The United Network for Organ Sharing reports that malignant cancer was the cause in 14.5 percent of kidney recipients five to ten years after the transplant operation.