White House gets major commitments on organ transplants, donations

MEDCITY NEWS | Mark Taylor

The White House Organ Summit Monday in Washington brought hopeful news to the more than 120,000 Americans awaiting organ transplants.

The summit brought together leaders from social media, technology firms, organ transplant advocacy organizations, universities and government agencies to announce collaborations aimed at decreasing that waiting list, which grows by 3,000 each month. The summit also explored ways to close the gap between the 95 percent of Americans who support organ donations and the 50 percent who are actually registered donors.

Kidney patients account for more than 80 percent of patients on that waiting list. Jeffrey Zients, President Obama’s economic advisor, said patients with end-stage renal disease cost Medicare more than $34 billion annually. Zients pointed out that every patient who receives a kidney transplant saves Medicare $60,000 per year and increases his or her life expectancy by 10 to 15 years.

Zients quoted a statement from Obama, saying: “We must all do our part to lift up donors, donor families and patients by supporting efforts to shorten the donor waiting list. Together we can improve and save lives by celebrating those who give of themselves, whether as living or registered donors, to provide the greatest gift there is to offer.”

The U.S Defense Department said it would invest nearly $200 million in next-generation technologies and research to repair and replace cells and tissues that can dramatically increase the time organs can be stored and improve the quality of organs transplanted. Continue reading
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