We’ve all been guilty of re-gifting items that we don’t need or don’t like, with the train of thought that if you can’t use them or like them, perhaps someone else will. But what about organs?
Some love the idea, especially recent recipient of a re-gifted organ, Vertis Boyce, an African-American female at the age of 70 who was given a kidney that once belonged to a Hispanic male, 24 years of age. Did we mention that prior to that, the kidney was donated from a white girl, 17 years of age?
Boyce’s organ transplant was part of a procedure rarely done, where individuals receive previously transplanted organs; which could, according to some doctors, save hundreds on an annual basis in the United States alone.
According to the doctor that performed the transplant, Jeffrey Veale, if someone passes away and their kidneys still works, there is no reason the organ should be disregarded. As the director of UCLA’s Kidney Exchange Program, Veale and a team of others have conducted this surgery three times within the year and they have the belief that this process could help when it comes to insane shortages around kidneys needed for transplants.
As per the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 95,000 individuals in the U.S. are on a waiting list for kidney transplants. The wait can be up to five years and, in some cases, ten. In fact, less than twenty percent of patients on the waiting list in the U.S. receive a transplant, with 13 individuals dying daily from that list. If ‘re-gifting’ kidneys became a standard practice, a huge door would open for those on the list.
Yet, in the last six decades less than 50 re-transplanting procedures have occurred. Why? Well, the perception is that once a kidney has been transplanted, that’s it for the organ! According to Veale, approximately 25 percent of kidney transplant recipients die while the organ is still functional; making this ‘re-gifting’ concept one that could offer a ton of hope to those on the transplant waiting list.
CNN reported that while Veale is unsure of how many times a kidney can be re-transplanted, of the procedures he’s conducted, all patients are off dialysis, and functioning well with their kidneys.
Boyce was a patient on dialysis for close to a decade and losing hope along the way. But thanks to Beto Maldonado, she has a new lease on life. Maldonado suffered through kidney disease for a majority of his life and received his transplant in 2015. Sadly, in 2017 he passed away due to a car crash. After he died, his family agreed to donate the still-functioning kidney. And this equaled out to a very happy ending for Boyce.
Here’s hoping the concept of ‘re-gifting’ organs that still function well becomes a wider-accepted idea within the healthcare industry. Not only could it save lives, but suffering as well.