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Difficulties In Donor Organ Allocation Given The Limited Supply

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

The November 10, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine features an editorial by Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH, Director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, titled Transplantation for Alcoholic Hepatitis — Time to Rethink the 6-Month “Rule.”

In this editorial, Dr. Brown addresses the difficult questions surrounding how to fairly allocate donor organs, which are in far shorter supply than their demand. In the case of patients with alcoholic hepatitis, current guidelines exclude such patients from the liver transplant waiting list unless they have successfully abstained from alcohol for at least six months. Yet as Dr. Brown points out, many die before this required, albeit arbitrary, window elapses. And a new study indicates that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Woman Donates Part Of Liver To Her Fiancé

When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was “instant love,” she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn’t worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn’t affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven’s condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant.

Although Steven had severe liver disease and was experiencing painful symptoms such as ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), he would have had to become deathly ill in order to qualify for a donor organ from the transplant waiting list. For a couple with a wedding to plan and a bright future ahead, the prospect of Steven spending many months, if not years, in progressively worsening health was just not an option. For Megan, the choice was clear. She had known from the beginning that she would donate part of her liver to him if she could — and when testing Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

CDC Addresses Infection Transmission Through Organ Transplants

Over the past few years, my team at the CDC looked into more than 200 reports of unexpected disease transmission through organ transplantation. Of the cases that were confirmed, some had fatal outcomes. Clearly, transmission of infections through organ transplants remains a patient safety concern that calls for action.

To help address the problem, CDC recently led a team of experts to develop the Draft 2011 Public Health Service (PHS) Guideline for Reducing Transmission of HIV, HBV, and HCV through Solid Organ Transplantation. The guideline was posted to the Federal Register last week, and I encourage your review and comment.

While recognizing the critical need for organs, our team also wants Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*

Vaccines: Top 10 Reasons To Get Your Shots

Vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical intervention in history. They are incredibly safe and effective and are well-tolerated by most people. In the US, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carefully reviews all reports of adverse reactions that could be associated with vaccines. Over decades of review, they have found that the rate of potential severe reactions is so low that they cannot even calculate a risk.

There are many vaccines available for babies, children, and adults. Please check these vaccine schedules to make sure that you and your family are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. (Or you can ask your doctor/nurse to review your vaccine needs with you in person.)

Vaccines for ages 0-6 click here.

Vaccines for ages 7-18 click here.

Vaccines for adults click here.

In case you have any doubts about the value of protecting yourself from disease, here are my top 10 reasons to get vaccinated: Read more »

Can You Name The 10 Vaccines That Adults May Need?

We’ve all heard about the importance of getting our flu shots this season, but did you know that there are 10 vaccines commonly recommended for adults? I spoke with Dave Lucas at ABC News about the low rates of adult vaccinations in the US, and encouraged people to ask their doctors if they’re up to date with their vaccinations.

On September 30th I participated in a social media event with the Immunization Action Coalition and learned from Executive Director, Dr. Deborah Wexler that: Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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