Articles Posted in Transplants

Cancer of the trachea–or windpipe–is extremely rare, representing only 1% of all cancers. One patient, who had been diagnosed in 2008, had undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, but his tumors were threatening to block his windpipe when technology came to the rescue last month.

The first-ever synthetic windpipe was transplanted on June 9, and last week the patient left the hospital. Created in a lab without using donor tissue, the new trachea was made only of synthetic material and the patient’s own stem cells. The process took fewer than two weeks, versus waiting months for an organ donor, CNN reported.

In addition to bringing this patient back from the brink, the landmark procedure means he won’t require immune-suppressing drugs, which have significant side effects and can render subjects vulnerable to infection.

After transplanting a kidney into the wrong patient, the University of Southern California University Hospital has shut down its kidney transplant program pending an investigation.

While this may be a unique event at USC, mixups in transplants unfortunately pop up around the country on a regular basis, because of the lack of rigorous safeguards to check and double-check to avoid tragedies. In this case, luck prevailed.

The patient escaped harm apparently because the mistake involved a kidney that happened to have universal blood type “O,” making it a close enough match to avoid harming its unintended recipient.

The American Red Cross collects and gives out about 43 percent of the blood given to medical patients in this country, which is why it may be unnerving to learn that the organization has not been following federal quality-control standards.

From the article:

The F.D.A. found shortcomings in the way the Red Cross screens donors for possible exposure to infectious diseases, failures to swab arms properly before inserting needles, failures to test for syphilis and failures to discard potentially risky blood, among other deficiencies.

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