It is now possible to re-transplant kidneys from a first recipient to a second according to the results of a rare surgical procedure performed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to CBS News, this procedure is thought to be the first procedure of this kind done in the U.S. The reason for the experiment? 73,000 people on transplant waiting lists nationwide who wait incredibly long periods of time to receive organs. Reusing previously transplanted organs that are still “in good shape” might increase supply. Still, it seems unlikely that procedures like this will put much of a dent in the organ shortage in the US given that the organ for the second transplant would no longer have to be needed by the first recipient, either due to death or complications of the first transplant. That said anything that increases the number of available organs should be pursued. Until we can grow new kidneys in a petri dish, there must be some effective way to increase supply of these precious lifesaving gifts.
Summer Johnson McGee, PhD