In a rather unique show of exemplary medical prowess and team effort, five concurrent kidney transplants were performed at John Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center. This maiden feat was accomplished with the combined effort 12 surgeons, 11 anesthesiologists, and 18 nurses and it took place over 10 hours and required six operating rooms. A spokesman from the hospital has confirmed the good health of the donors as well as the recipients.
The transplant plan took shape after four patients approached the hospital with a relative each, who were willing to donate a kidney. The fifth patient was already overdue on the waiting list, with no donors in sight. Once the donors were in place and the matches showed promise, the five kidney transplants were conducted parallely to offset any chances of donors developing second thoughts.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of Hopkins' transplant center and head of the transplant team, has expressed immense satisfaction with the simultaneous transplants that has indeed set a precedent for the country, adequately demonstrating the success of team effort.
These were all unrelated 'altruistic donor' i.e. someone who is willing to donate his or her kidney to anyone who needs it. Currently unrelated transplants are banned in the United State under the purview of the National Organ Transplant Act. It states that 'donors cannot receive valuable consideration for donating organs.'
Currently about 16,500 kidney transplants are being done in the United sates; however there are 70,000 patients on the waiting list who require transplants. Most transplants come from cadaver organs. The number of living transplants of the paired kidney organ is retricted legally to first relatives.
In the last few years, in order to overcome shortage of kidneys; there has been a move to encourage unrelated donors. The fear however is that this may precipitate commerce in kidneys; similar to what is currently happening in some of the developing countries.
Under the current law whether these type of transplants are possible in the United States is not clear.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, Director of Hopkins Transplant Center said: 'a demonstration to the rest of the country that this is what's possible when people work together.'
Some may view this current feat as conroversial and it will be intersting to see their reaction in the coming days.