National Kidney Foundation — “End Kidney Shortage By 2019?
Posted Apr 27 2009 11:42pm
The month of March is National Kidney Month and March 12, 2009 is World Kidney Day. These dates are significant because they mark the beginning of a commitment by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to “ End the Wait” for a kidney transplant in the United States in the next decade. This effort needs and deserves your support. Thousands of lives depend on it. At this very moment nearly 80,000 of the 101,000 people on the national transplant list are waiting for kidneys, many of them will die waiting.
There are two sources for kidneys, 1) living donors and 2) deceased donors. While only about half of all donated kidneys come from living donors medical evidence indicates better outcomes for recipients of these life saving gifts. It is also noted that if a living donor lives a healthy lifestyle he/she can have a normal lifespan with just one kidney.
I’m going to let the NKF speak for itself in this blog. I will offer little comment other than to say the organization has committed itself to developing almost every avenue to increase the number of kidneys available for transplant. They have wisely avoided addressing the issue of paying donors for their organs. I will do that in a future blog.
“Rather than focusing on single issue tactics, these broad based actions will achieve the common goal that everyone agrees on – ending the wait for a transplant. It uses proven and tested strategies, each of which is already successful in some areas and which should now be implemented everywhere. (The full list of NKF’s Recommendations is attached and is available on the NKF website www.kidney.org)
We can improve the outcome of first transplants, reducing the need for a return to the waiting list.
We should pay for immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the recipient.
The loss of a transplant is one of the leading reasons for starting dialysis. Reducing that problem will make more kidneys available.
We can improve the health of recipients, transplant them earlier when their condition is better, educate them about their options and ask them sooner, “Do you have a donor?”
We can also increase the number of organs available from deceased donors .
We can improve the care of donor families in hospitals and support them while they are with their loved one.
We can increase the use of proven techniques such as extended criteria donors and donation after cardiac death throughout the country.
And, we can make sure that donor families don’t incur any additional costs because of the donation, including extra funeral costs.
Increasing the number of living donors is vital to meeting our goal.
Living donors and potential donors should receive state-of-the-art care and never suffer financially because of their donation.
We can cover all the costs of donation, including lost wages.
We can track donor outcomes and make sure they have health care coverage and life insurance for anything that happens related to the donation.
And, a program of matched donation should be available throughout the United States.
Living donors and potential donors are our constituents, too. NKF will establish a Living Donor Council to support their needs. They should always have the best information about the donation process to help them make decisions that are right for them.
We also can improve the American system of organ donation and transplantation. Many challenges are resource-based. We can increase the number and skills of people working in transplant programs nationwide to reduce the time it takes to complete the living donation process. All potential living donors should have access to laparoscopic nephrectomy.
This can be done. It won’t be easy but the goal is worth the effort. We can End The Wait! We can leave existing laws as they are and write new ones that address the whole problem. We can have a dramatic impact on the health of all our patients and our country.
The National Kidney Foundation will commit itself to leading the effort. If the community responds and reaches above individual priorities and single issues, the goal can be met. The challenges are many and the work will be hard. But, it’s the only way to do what our patients need us to do: END THE WAIT!”
Please comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And – please spread the word about the need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be a donor you may have saved or affected 50 lives.