[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 22-Mar-2010
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Contact: Sally Stewart
Sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Success rates for organ transplants are increasing, but organ donations are decreasing, study shows

LOS ANGELES The number of living donor organs available for transplant has progressively declined over the past five years, according to a new study. In addition, the study showed that for the first time, organs from deceased donors decreased in 2008.

"This decline has resulted in a widening gap between the number of organs available for transplant, and the number of patients who are awaiting a donor organ," said Andrew S. Klein, M.D., director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Comprehensive Transplant Center and first author on the study.

According to the study, which is reported in the online edition of the American Journal of Transplantation, the number of living donors increased every year from 1999 to 2004, but has decreased progressively since 2004. Only the number of living kidney donors increased between 1999 and 2008, but the increases occurred between 1999 and 2004 and the numbers have fallen each year since. Donation of other organs by living donors decreased during that time frame.

At the same time, the number of deceased donors increased each year between 1999 and 2007, but not enough to offset the diminished living donor donations. The increase was most impressive between 2003 and 2006, but reached a plateau in the middle of the decade. In 2008, for the first time, there was a slight decrease from the previous year's donations.

"Ironically, the single largest factor in today's donor organ shortfall is that solid organ transplants have become so successful," said Klein. "Improved survival rates and the expectation that organ replacement will enhance quality of life have encouraged more doctors and their patients with organ failure to opt for transplantation," he added.

The study also identified a number of other factors that are contributing to the organ shortage. These include:

"This study showed that many people have questions and concerns about organ donation," noted Klein. "Educating the public and improving transparency of the organ donation and transplantation process and performance are critical to narrowing the donor organ gap."

Beyond that, the study concluded, reassessment of high-risk donor definitions, as well as the benchmarks for donor screening, are areas which could potentially improve the safety, quality and volume of organ procurement in the future.

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To arrange interviews or to obtain a copy of the article, please call Sally Stewart at 310-248-6566.

TRENDS IN LIVING DONATION BETWEEN 2004 and 2008

TRENDS IN DECEASED ORGAN DONATION BETWEEN 2004 and 2008

Citation: American Journal of Transplantation 2010; 10: 1-14



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