June 6, 2000
Eighty people so far have called Johns Hopkins to inquire about donating a kidney to a stranger in need since a widely publicized transplant in September, when an Indiana woman gave a kidney to a Maryland teen she met just days before the operation.
A report about the first 71 such people to come forward – from 26 states and two foreign countries – was presented recently at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons' annual meeting in Chicago.
"The altruistic stranger donor may offer another solution to the nationwide organ shortage," says Lloyd E. Ratner, M.D., Hopkins' director of kidney transplantation. More than 45,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants in the United States.
"Many of the prospective donors have a regular history of altruism, community service or work in health care," Ratner says. "They appear to be highly motivated and committed to donating. We are encouraged that so many individuals stepped forward following a single isolated event."
All those who inquire are supplied with literature on live kidney donation and are asked to provide medical records or a note from their physician before being evaluated at Hopkins, to "rule out impulsive individuals," Ratner says.
"Several individuals reported they had considered donating a kidney for some time or had attempted to donate, but had been discouraged or ignored by other centers," he says.
Two people already have completed the first steps and are scheduled for follow-up at Hopkins.
Joyce Roush, a 45-year-old organ procurement coordinator, offered her kidney in March 1998 after hearing Ratner speak at a meeting in Indianapolis about a new method of removing kidneys called laparoscopic nephrectomy. She was matched to a 13-year-old boy from Aberdeen, Md. The two met for the first time a week before the Sept. 7, 1999, surgery.
The laparoscopic technique, pioneered in February 1995 by Ratner and his colleague Louis R. Kavoussi, M.D., at Hopkins, requires only four half-inch incisions in the abdominal area and a two- to three-inch incision below the navel. The more traditional surgery requires an eight- to 12-inch incision. More than 200 laparoscopic nephrectomies have been performed at Hopkins.
Related Web Sites:
The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center:
Transplant Resource Center of Maryland:
United Network for Organ Sharing: