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Call for Deepened Support of Solid-Organ Transplants

More than two million life-years saved by solid-organ transplant since 1987 but more work needed

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Organ transplants have saved more than two million life-years in the United States over 25 years, new research shows. But fewer than half of the people who needed a transplant in that time period got one, according to a report published online Jan. 28 in JAMA Surgery.

The researchers analyzed the medical records of 533,329 people who received organ transplants between 1987 and 2012, and of 579,506 people who were placed on a waiting list but never received a transplant.

During that time, transplants saved about 2.2 million life-years, with an average of 4.3 life-years saved for every person who received an organ transplant, the researchers found. The numbers of life-years saved by type of organ transplant were: kidney, 1.3 million years; liver, more than 460,000; heart, almost 270,000; lung, close to 65,000; pancreas-kidney, almost 80,000; pancreas, just under 15,000; and intestine, about 4,500.

“Our analysis indicated that, as a nation, we achieved the peak volume in transplantation in 2006. The critical shortage of donors continues to hamper this field: only 47.9 percent of patients on the waiting list during the 25-year study period underwent a transplant,” the authors write. “The need is increasing; therefore, organ donation must increase. We call for deepened support of solid-organ transplant and donation — worthy endeavors with a remarkable record of achievement and a tremendous potential to do even more good for humankind in the future.”

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