United States Had Record Number of Organ Transplants in 2004, HHS Says
Almost 27,000 U.S. residents received a transplanted organ in 2004, a new national record that HHS officials attribute to a campaign launched in 2001 to increase organ donation rates, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The number of organ transplants increased by 6% between 2003 -- when 25,461 transplants were performed -- and 2004, according to an HHS report released on Tuesday.
The report also found that 7,153 deceased patients donated organs in 2004, with an average of three organs each (Meckler , AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/29). More than 20,000 transplants were performed with organs from deceased patients in 2004, an increase of almost 11% from 2003, the report found (USA Today, 3/30). In addition, the report found that transplants performed with organs from living donors increased by 2% to 6,965 in 2004, with kidneys the most common organs donated.
Joyce Somsak -- a spokesperson for the Health Resources and Services Administration, the HHS agency that oversees organ transplant issues -- said, "We haven't had this kind of good news in the past few years."
HHS officials attributed the increase in organ transplants to a "breakthrough collaborative" among 200 U.S. hospitals where the largest number of potential donors die. Since 2001, officials from organ banks and the hospitals have met at conferences to discuss proposals to increase organ donation rates among potential donors to 75% from the current 50% at many hospitals. According to HHS, hospitals that have participated in the collaborative experienced a 16% increase in organ donation rates between 2003 and 2004.
Robert Metzger, president of the United Network for Organ Sharing, said that increased interest in organ donation after cardiac death, which is more complicated than donation after brain death, also has contributed to the increase in donation rates.
According to the AP/Sun, other factors that have contributed to the increase in organ donation rates include: efforts to increase the number of organs used from each donor; placement of transplant coordinators at hospitals to identify potential donors earlier; employment of African-American and Hispanic transplant coordinators at hospitals to discuss organ donation with African-American and Hispanic families, respectively; and a positive attitude that "assumes they will say yes to a donation."
Metzger said, "The new battle cry is 'every donor, every organ, every time'" (Meckler , AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/29). HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt added, "For each life saved, hope for others in need grows" (CQ HealthBeat, 3/29).
In related news, HHS has issued proposed rules that would provide "the first legal protections for living organ donors" the AP/Sun reports. Under the proposed rules:
- Hospitals would have to detail the medical and other risks of organ donation to potential donors or risk the loss of Medicare eligibility;
- Hospital organ transplant programs would have to receive certification from the federal government every three years, based on reviews of transplant survival rates; and
- Hospitals would have to inform potential organ donors and recipients of survival rates for their transplant programs.
An HHS advisory committee also recommended that the department establish an independent advocate to protect the interests of potential organ donors. The proposed rules, published in February, are open for public comment and likely would not become final for two years (Meckler , AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/29). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.