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Number of patients who die awaiting kidney reaches new high

June 18, 2009 |  2:00 pm

The shortage of donor organs has been a problem for many years, and it isn't getting any better. A study published today found that 46% of patients age 60 and older currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant will die before receiving an organ from a deceased donor. The study is published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

People in search of a kidney may have better luck trying to find a living donor -- someone who will give up one of their two kidneys.

Kidney "We have now reached a notable benchmark in which nearly half of newly listed older candidates will not survive the interval to receive a deceased donor transplant," the lead author of the study, Jesse D. Schold, said in a news release. "Our results emphasize the particular need to consider living donation as an alternative source for some older patients -- or alternatively, the critical importance of navigating the steps to receive a deceased donor transplant as rapidly as possible."

Schold, an associate instructor of medicine at the University of Florida, analyzed data on nearly 55,000 patients over age 60 who were on the U.S. waiting list for a kidney transplant from 1995 to 2007. Patients age 70 and older and African Americans were even more likely to die before receiving a kidney. Besides age, factors such as blood type and being on dialysis at the time of listing also affected the odds of receiving a transplant. The study also found wide variations in regions of the country.

The number of people who need kidneys is increasing while the number of donors has remained stable. That means time on the waiting list has grown and more people die. Only certain patients are viable organ donors at the time of death. While many family members consent to donation, an astonishing number of Americans refuse to offer what has been called "the gift of life."

Information on organ transplantation, donation and procurement can be found on the websites of the United Network for Organ Sharing and Donate Life America.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A patient receives kidney dialysis. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times


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Comments (7)

This is terrible.

There are alot more people out there that can donate a kidney.

I donated a kidney and it was the greatest experience of my life. I now have a project to help others who are in desperate need of a kidney. My brother donated a kidney as well - to someone on my list of people in need of a kidney.

If you would like to help save a person's life or need more info on kidney donation, please feel free to contact me.


Chaya Lipschutz

Please help save Vanessa's life!!!

Vanessa is a 37 year old mother of 2 little boys - 2 year old and 4 year old.

She urgently needs a kidney and is on dialysis for 12 years!

Please help save this Mom's life!!!

Please contact me ASAP.


Chaya Lipschutz


WEBSITE: wwwSaveALife-Donate

Hope as many folks needing kidneys get them.


Your story about the need for Organ Donation highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.

Over half of the 100,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 12,000 members at this writing, including 1533 members in California.

Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

Hopefully they find a safe solution for this.

The number of people in the United States awaiting a kidney transplant will soon eclipse 80,000. As this number continues to rise, the number of donors remains the same. The National Kidney Foundation's multi-faceted END THE WAIT!! initiative, launched this year, has the goal of changing these numbers and ending the wait for a kidney transplant.

To accomplish this goal, the NKF will work side by side with other organizations and Congress to institute effective, proven methods that will improve outcomes of first transplants, increase both deceased and living donation, and improve the system of transplantation in the United States.

Specific recommendations of the END THE WAIT! initiative include:
-Covering the cost of the vital immunosuppressive drugs that transplant recipients must take to keep their transplant for life. Currently, Medicare ends payment after 36 months. This will lower the number of people who need repeat transplants.
- Covering all costs associated with living donation, including lost wages, and providing all donors with the option to have laparoscopic surgery.
- Improving the care provided to families of deceased donors, including covering all donation-related costs and funeral expenses.

The task is complex and challenging, but we owe it to our patients, donors and families to implement these recommendations and better ones chance at receiving the gift of life. To learn more about END THE WAIT! and learn how you can help us achieve this goal, visit

-Jennifer Martin
END THE WAIT! Director
National Kidney Foundation

Ever since that baseball hero-DRUNK got a liver transplant because of WHO he WAS, we tore up our donor cards. It doesn't help ANYONE, when CALIF prisoners get ahead of the line for Stanford heart transplants, nor as the LA Times reported, some 1400 ILLEGALS get dialysis and transplants not just for FREE (at CA taxpayer expense at $500k-$1 MILLION) but AHEAD of US CITIZENS!!!! I suspect the medical industry is very much like Wall Street banks and Detroit automakers; CAN NEVER BE, TOO BIG TO FAIL?


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