Thursday, February 08, 2007

Slow Suttee

Tomorrow the Regis and Kelly show will do their annual Valentine's week wedding. It will feature a young viewer couple chosen for their endearing qualities. Along with the excitement of a glorious gown and the latest fashion in cake, we know that an element of tragedy accompanies this nuptial feast. The groom suffers from an autoimmune disease that destroyed his kidneys. His kidney transplant (from his father) is failing, and without another one, he may not be long for this world. Luckily, his bride-to-be is a perfect match.

Using organs from living donors with relative safety from immediate mortality is still a new technology. Practitioners describe the long-term health effects as “minimal,” I think it’s likely that there have not been enough multiple-year follow-up studies.

Going strictly by my perceptions of news reports, there seems to be a trend of kidney donations between spouses in a female to male direction. It may be that the underlying diseases are more prevalent in men. It’s certain that older men who can afford extensive health care often have younger spouses. If there really is a disproportionate flow of working parts from women to men, it should be stopped. Tissue banks could easily balance the numbers according to sex, and I believe that they should.

When a family member or acquaintance wants to donate a kidney but isn’t a match, sometimes another twosome can be found who aren’t a match for each other, but can be cross-matched with the first pair. To prevent donors from changing their minds after their own partner has received an organ, all four people are anesthetized and operated on simultaneously. This swapping can be done with more than two pairs. I found an article about five transfers done at once. Judging by the first names, the recipients included two women and three men, the donors were all female.

The Valentine groom’s mother may donate one of her kidneys before they resort to harvesting (yes, harvesting is the word used in the transplantation world) one from his bride. But it must be so comforting to have one in reserve.

1 comment:

Amishav said...

Naybe they'll have a nice red kidney to put on top of their cake. Wouldn't that be interesting.