Tuesday, November 21, 2006

MedEthics: 5 kidneys are better than 1

I read this headline in the newspaper today: "Doctors pull off 5-way kidney transplant". Considering that kidney transplants are not cutting edge (and the only impressive part of the feat was the number of simultaneous transplants) I had to ask myself, why would anyone (in this case Johns Hopkins) consider this a good thing? Five simultaneous surgeries with five donors, five recipients, 12 surgeons, and 6 operating rooms. Seems like a recipe for disaster. Apparently the recipients had living donors who weren't matches and so by pooling resources (and one "altruistic donor") there was enough matches to swap kidneys. And the reason they did it simultaneously: "to prevent anyone from backing out later or in case someone fell ill." This seems horrible. That in order to get people to donate life, we have to put them in a dangerous situation, essentially a five way Mexican standoff (put the kidney down and nobody gets hurt) seems horrible. Welcome to the Guinness book of Medical records.


michael said...

5 successful kidney transplants to those to need them - yeah that sounds awful, almost as awful as donating to charity and adopting orphans.

Matz said...

You totally miss my point. Under your logic, if the hospital had decided to blindfold the doctors and make them do the surgery with one arm tied behind their back that would also be fine because in the end a transplant is a transplant. My concern, is that performing them simultaneously needlessly increases the risk and spreads resources thin. It might not have been as publicized, but five transplants in five days would have been safer and better for the patients.