New York City is testing a pilot program in an attempt to increase the number of organs available for human transplant. A special until in the City will now monitor 911 calls for people who may be dying (such as heart attack victims).
If the patients cannot be saved before transport to a hospital, this new city team will take over and try to save the kidneys. Most patients who die outside of a hospital environment are not candidates for organ recovery.
Organ recovery refers to the removal, preservation and use of human organs and tissue from the bodies of the recently deceased to be used in surgical transplants on the living. Over 4,000 transplant candidates are added to the national waiting list each month, and every day doctors across the country perform between seventy to eighty transplants of the various organs within the human body.
There are now more than 105,000 people on the waiting list for solid organ transplants, and experts suggest that each of us could save or help as many as fifty people by being an organ and tissue donor. Unfortunately, though three-quarters of the American populace stand in favor of organ donation, fewer than half of those families approached after a loved one’s death are willing to consent to recovery.
All of this, up to now, has occurred inside a hospital setting.
Total organ donation is only considered once it is clear that a patient has no hope of survival. Until that time, the focus is always on healing the patient. The prospect of gathering viable organs from a severely injured patient plays no role whatsoever in a doctor’s overall diagnosis or treatment, as every doctor is medically and ethically obligated to provide each patient with the best quality care until such time as brain death occurs.
To overcome patient fears that organ recovery will trump patient care, New York City officials explained that rescue teams will not be told whether this new preservation unit was standing. The organ recovery team, now travelling in a bright red and white ambulance marked “Organ Preservation Unit,” has been ordered to remain out of sight. In addition, the deceased must be on an organ registry list, and the family must provide consent.
A Federal grant has provided $1.5 million for this pilot program, limited to the hours between 4 p.m. and midnight, to individuals between the ages of 18 and 60, and who die in their home or other residence from cardiac arrest.
Additional Sources: New.York.Times.com