Time | Linsey Tanner
Recently in Chicago, in what is believed to be the first documented case of its kind in the U.S., a transplanted kidney that was failing was removed from a patient while he was still alive and given to somebody else.
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.
Typically when transplanted organs fail in living patients, doctors throw them away. But with more than 73,000 people awaiting transplants nationwide, some specialists say doctors should consider trying to reuse more organs to ease the severe shortage.
“The need for kidney transplantation doesn’t match our capacity,” said Dr. Lorenzo Gallon, a Northwestern University transplant specialist who oversaw the kidney recycling operation in Chicago. “People die on dialysis” while awaiting kidneys.
That was the possible fate awaiting two strangers. A research letter describing the unusual case was published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
The donated kidney lasted just two weeks in the first patient, a 27-year-old Illinois man. The same disease that ruined his kidneys started to damage the new kidney, given to him by his sister. He was getting sicker, and doctors needed to act fast if they were going to save the organ. With permission from the man and his sister, they removed it last July and retransplanted it into a 67-year-old Indiana man.
Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/26/organ-recycling-one-mans-failed-kidney-transplant-gives-life-to-another/#ixzz1t9PTHBok