By Janet Fang
Posting in Environment
In a medical first, the same kidney was transplanted twice in two weeks. A donated organ, taken out from the first recipient because of disease reoccurrence, could end up thriving in another.
In a medical first, the same kidney was transplanted twice in two weeks.
At 27 years old, Ray Fearing was facing eventual kidney failure when he received a kidney from his sister last summer. His condition, called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), causes scar tissue on the part of the kidney that filters waste out of the blood.
But soon after, his FSGS began to manifest in the new kidney, and it had to be taken out 14 days later. “When post surgery tests indicated that Ray was at risk of developing life-threatening conditions due to the reoccurrence of the disease, we had to remove the kidney before he deteriorated,” Lorenzo Gallon of Northwestern Memorial Hospital explains.
Since it was a perfectly good organ, the doctors – after a discussion with the medical ethics committee – passed it on to Erwin Gomez, a 66-year-old man with end-stage renal disease caused by type 2 diabetes.
The kidney regained function almost immediately and even showed reversal of the slight damage caused by Fearing’s FSGS. Eight months after the retransplantation, the kidney continues to function excellently in Gomez.
Fearing is back on dialysis and is hopeful he’ll receive a new kidney. "It may not have been my time, but I am grateful that I was able to help another patient," Fearing says. "My day will come."
It's the first time a donated kidney was implanted into a patient only to be subsequently removed and transplanted again.
Typically when transplanted organs fail in living patients, doctors throw them away, CBS/AP reports:
But with more than 73,000 people on waiting lists nationwide, some specialists say doctors should consider trying to reuse more organs to ease the severe shortage. There have been other cases since the 1980s of transplant organs being used more than once, but they were rare and involved instances in which the first recipient died.
"Not only did we save a viable organ from being discarded, we also made significant strides in better understanding the cause of FSGS, which has been relatively unknown, so we can better treat the disease in the future,” says Joseph Leventhal of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This proves that when an organ fails in one body, it may thrive in another."
A report appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine last week.
Image from Gray’s Anatomy via Wikimedia
May 1, 2012