Recycled kidney, anyone?

I am all for recycling.  I am even a fan of organ transplants.  I have signed my driver’s license, stating that I would be willing to donate my organs.   However, there is an ick factor in recycling a donated organ that has been rejected by its original transplanted host.

“Recently in Chicago, in what is believed to be the first documented case of its kind in the US, a transplanted kidney that was failing was removed from a patient while he was still alive and given to someone else.  Typically when  transplanted organs fail in living patients, doctors throw them away.

“The donated kidney lasted 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.   With permission from the man and his sister, they removed it last July and re-transplanted it into a 67 year old Indiana man.

“Reusing a transplanted organ can be tricky—and riskier—because surgeons have to deal with the scar tissue that typically forms around an organ as the body heals.  Also, Wayne Shelton, a bioethicist at Albany Medical College in New York, said the practice may raise ethical questions.  Doctors need to make sure patients who are offered reused parts understand all the risks.”

I suppose a rejected kidney is better than no kidney, but I wonder at the wisdom of transplanting an organ that has been damaged by disease into a new host.  As holistic practitioners say, the issues are in the tissues.  This transplanted organ not only has had at least two previous hosts, but the third, or subsequent host will now have to deal with not only an organ containing DNA different from the rest of the body, but also one that has been damaged by disease.

What do you think?  Is this a risk that you would be comfortable with?

Until next time,


Houston Chronicle, April, 26, 2012

  1. Is the ‘risk’ from the used kidney greater than or less than the risk of death from not having any kidney at all? Personally, the ‘ick’ factor isn’t really a factor.

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