What is a Transplant Committee?
A transplant committee is a hospital committee which meets to discuss issues related to organ transplantation. One of the more crucial roles of a transplant committee involves the review of candidates for organ transplant to determine whether or not they should be added to a list of potential organ recipients. Working on a transplant committee can be very challenging and extremely stressful, as well as emotionally taxing.
When a doctor decides that his or patient needs a new organ, the doctor takes the patient's case to the transplant committee. The committee considers factors like the health and age of the patient, along with medical history. If the patient is considered too healthy to be in critical need, the request for organs will be denied, although the transplant committee will reconsider the issue if the patient's health declines. Patients who are extremely sick or suffering from multiple organ failure may also be denied. The goal is not to play God, but to give organs to patients in need with the best chance of survival.
Numerous factors in a patient's history are considered by a transplant committee, because certain things in a medical history can cause a patient to be delisted from a list of organ recipients. For example, patients with a history of eating disorders or suicide attempts may not be considered for transplantation. After the transplant committee has carefully reviewed the patient's case, it decides whether or not to approve the patient for listing. If the patient is listed, the transplant committee creates a score for the patient which indicates how critical his or her need is.
As a patient's health changes, his or her score may rise or fall. Doctors try to keep their patient scores as current as possible, since when organs become available, scores are used to dole them out. Most donor organs are routed through central organizations like the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in the United States. People can also make private arrangements for living organ and tissue donation, as might happen when a family member agrees to donate a kidney to a patient in need.
In addition to making decisions about organ transplants, many transplant committees also sponsor public education and events for transplant recipients. A transplant committee often liaises with the organ procurement committee in its hospital, and it may host an annual party for people who have received donor organs. Recipients who wish to write letters to donor families often route them through their transplant committee.
I heard that in lots of places in the US the average wait for a kidney transplant is 5 years, but some places have a 10 year wait. Some attribute the increase in the annual death rate for transplant candidates (up about 2% from 2001 to 8.1% in 2005) to this long wait.
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