A reader sent me a link that led me to a story on USA TODAY’s website. I had to read the story a couple of times because I found it so shocking.
Here are the first two paragraphs:
“The United States discards about 3,500 donated kidneys a year, many of which could be used to save lives, new research shows.
“The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, focused on the rate at which donated kidneys were used in the U.S. and France between 2004 and 2014. In that time, the U.S. discarded about 17.9% of the kidneys it recovered, while France discarded about 9.1% of the kidneys it recovered. In all, the U.S. threw away almost 28,000 donated kidneys in that 10-year period.”
Let that sink in for a few minutes. People are dying because they need kidneys and yet donated kidneys are being trashed.
The study was published in JAMA — The Journal of the American Medical Association.
During the time under study, the U.S. recovered 156,089 kidneys from deceased donors and discarded 27,987 (17.9 per cent) of them. In France, 29,984 kidneys were recovered, with 2,732 (9.1 per cent) of them discarded.
According to figures supplied by the National Kidney Foundation, there are almost 100,000 Americans in need of kidney transplants. While 12 people on the waiting list die each day, about 10 kidneys are trashed each day.
Adrianna Rodriguez of USA TODAY wrote:
“The study showed that kidneys discarded in the U.S. were on average about 36 years old, whereas kidneys discarded in France were on average about 50 years old. That means France had a higher kidney acceptance rate from older donors.
“The study found that the U.S. is more likely than France to throw away kidneys when the donor had hypertension, diabetes, had a heart attack or tested positive for Hepatitis C.”
That story also included this quote from Sumit Mohan, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia U in New York City: “They should definitely be used and are definitely viable. Using kidneys from diabetic donors do remarkably well.”
Rodriguez points out that “the mortality rate for patients who go on dialysis is about 20 per cent annually, which works out to be a five-year survival rate.”
Mohan told Rodriguez: “It’s comparable to some of the worst cancers we see.”
Keep in mind that while some cancers are curable, there isn’t a cure for kidney disease. No, there isn’t.
Mohan added: “People aren’t asking ‘What’s the quality of my kidney?’ The question that everybody asks is, ‘When am I getting my kidney?’ ”
In short, the system in the U.S. is broken. The good news it that there is a move afoot to overhaul the country’s organ transplant regulations. The bad news is that we all know that won’t happen this week or next.
The USA TODAY story is right here and it really is worth a read.
The complete JAMA Internal Medicine study is right here, and it is absolutely devastating if you are an American and at all impacted by kidney disease.
Another reader sent me a link to an editorial in the New York Daily News. The editorial board there writes: “Beggars know they can’t be choosers. Even an imperfect kidney is better than life, and ultimately death, on dialysis. Fix the rules so more Americans can receive the gift of life.” . . . The complete editorial is right here.
All of this hits really close to home. My wife, Dorothy, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. Had we been living in the U.S., the kidney she received likely would have been rejected because it may have failed one of the afore-mentioned qualifiers.
At that point, she had been doing peritoneal dialysis for almost four years.
If you are in the area of Granville Island in Vancouver early in September, you may want to check out this play — Waiting Time — that will be part of the Fringe Theatre Festival.