National Panel Will Reconsider What Makes A Good Donated Kidney

One hospital's throwaway organ is another's lifesaver

lamb kidneys
The National Kidney Foundation is working to reform organ donation practices (pictured here: lamb kidneys, hopefully not showing up in operating rooms for humans).Wikimedia Commons

In 2015, 3,159 less-than-perfect donated kidneys were discarded by hospitals. That's after more than 4,700 people in the U.S. died waiting for a kidney in 2014.

The National Kidney Foundation is bringing together a panel of experts to examine how hospitals evaluate donated kidneys. With 17,000 people on liver transplant waiting lists, there's a lot of room for reform. Federal regulations that pressure transplant centers for positive outcomes, sanctions on centers that fail to meet standards, communication efficiency breakdowns, and physicians' misperceptions combine to make the issue slippery, but not unsalvageable for those waiting three years or more for a lifesaving organ.

"Should there be programs that are designated as centers of excellence for donating these particular types of organs?" Matthew Cooper, co-chair of the foundation's national steering committee, asked in STAT. "Can we find a way to minimize the time it take to allocate these organs so there is a better chance of using them?" That's what they're hoping to find out, and fix.