Kidney transplant policies have taken the spotlight recently, after a transplant error at USC in January and yesterday’s report that a recipient was infected with HIV from a donated kidney. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hospitals should adopt policies requiring living donors to be tested for HIV no more than 7 days before the transplant. Although rare, infection from a donor has been known to happen, with four recipients contracting HIV and hepatitis C from a single donor in 2007.
These recent transplant fiascoes come as changes are being proposed to the allocation of scarce organs. The changes being considered would more closely match the age of the recipient with that of the donor, meaning an older patient may be passed over in favor of a younger patient if doctors expect the donated kidney to survive longer. This policy change attempts to balance ethical concerns with the reality of limited organ availability.
If you have received a transplanted kidney, or are on the list to receive one, you can enhance your odds of a long and successful period of post-transplant survival by staying healthy. Close attention to diet and exercise have been shown to increase survival rates.
Kidney transplantation is something most of us never think about. When we do, we often assume it is almost 100% safe and effective. Unfortunately, recent events have proven that belief wrong.