October 7, 1998

Organ Transplantation—Barriers, Outcomes, and Evolving Policies

Author Affiliations

From the New England Organ Bank, Tissue Typing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1998;280(13):1184-1185. doi:10.1001/jama.280.13.1184

Solid organ transplantation was introduced into the armamentarium of medical treatments with the first kidney transplant performed 40 years ago. Since the historic success of kidney transplantation in identical twins, it has been possible to take advantage of a succession of increasingly effective immunosuppressive maintenance agents so that organs from nonidentical relatives, living unrelated individuals, and cadaver donors can be used with excellent results. Although patients with end-stage kidney failure have the option of long-term hemodialysis or transplantation, those with progressive heart, liver, or lung failure will die unless they receive a transplant. Even though dialysis is available for patients with renal failure, the mortality rates for patients who remain on dialysis is 30% to 40% higher than that of comparable patients who receive kidney transplants.1,2