The University of Texas Southwestern had their annual transplant dinner on Friday night, April 10. It was our first time to attend, and it was a humbling experience.
Two of Randy’s favorite doctors were there (there are several doctors on each transplant team), and two nurses who cared for him in ICU.
There were kidney transplantees, liver transplantees, heart and lung transplantees. We were sitting in a room of miracles.
Consider these facts:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 percent of American adults – about 20 million people — have chronic kidney disease. Dr. Poggio says 600,000 are on dialysis and 100,000 are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Yet only 16,000 transplants are done each year. (http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/07/4-facts-you-need-to-know-about-kidney-transplants-and-dialysis/).
The nation has a severe shortage of donated livers. More than 16,000 people are awaiting a liver transplant, and just 6,300 a year get one. More than 1,400 others die waiting each year. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/15/liver-transplant-wait-_n_823358.html?)
At any given moment there are over 3,000 people on the heart transplant list, and around 2,000 are performed in the USA every year.
When it comes to lungs, the waters get murkier. The lungs were the last organs to be successfully transplanted…and they are the transplantation with the most risk. The lungs are the only organ (except the skin) exposed to the air, pollution, bacteria, etc. People who need a lung transplant have to be extremely healthy to be put on the list, and many more people die waiting for a transplant than get transplanted. Most patients are rejected from the list for health reasons. Randy was one of the very, very fortunate few, and his story is an unusual one for lung transplantation because he was on life support for almost two weeks prior to the surgery. (Here are some statistics).
It was incredible to be in a room full of miracles, and to be in a room with those who work tirelessly to create those miracles. We observed moments of silence for the donors and the donor’s families. It is due to people who donate their organs selflessly who save the lives of others. I am an organ donor. Are you?
Thank you, UT Southwestern Transplant Center. Thank you for giving the gift of life.