Physicians reuse donor kidney in second patient after failing in first

USA Today reports, “In what looks like a medical first, doctors reported Wednesday that a kidney transplanted into one patient, which then started to fail, has been removed and transplanted into a second patient, who is doing well.”

According to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Lorenzo Gallon supervised the transplants over a two-week span in June at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.”

USA Today adds, “While transplanted kidneys have been removed from deceased recipients and given to someone else, this is the first time in the US a living recipient has passed along a donated kidney, according to Joel Newman, assistant director of communication for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).”

“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,” the AP reports. “Typically when transplanted organs fail in living patients, doctors throw them away.”

Now, however, “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.”

HealthDay notes that the second recipient is doing well. The original recipient, who suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease that “causes scar tissue to develop on the part of the kidney that filters waste out of blood,” is “back on dialysis and still hopes to receive another kidney transplant in the future.”

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