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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*

Can The Expiration Date Of Harvested Organs Be Extended?

Currently, once a donated organ has been harvested it only has a few hours on ice before it “expires.” Lengthening this time period would be an incredible breakthrough that would allow patients in a wider area to potentially receive a transplant and also it would reduce some of the insanity surrounding the time pressures of organ transplantation.

One proposed method of extending an organ’s shelf life is to alter the internal cell biology to allow cells to live longer at lower temperatures. The State University of New Jersey Rutgers-Camden just received a $385,419 grant from the NIH to study an enzyme system, AMP phosphatase, and how it can potentially create cold-tolerant Drosophila. The enzyme was originally identified in ice worms as the key enzyme that allows them to survive in glaciers. The researchers hope that if they are able to utilize this enzyme system to create a cold-tolerant fruit fly, then they would be able to apply that knowledge to donated organs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

A Tough Route To Becoming A Doctor

This occurred after a liver, heart, lung, and kidney transplant:

Allison John, 32, made medical history in 2006 after she received her fourth organ transplant — a kidney from her father, 61-year-old David John, to add to her previous heart, lung and liver transplants.

A life plagued by illness and frequent hospital visits has not deterred John from her dream of becoming a doctor, however. After 14 years of interrupted study, she finally received her medical degree from Cardiff University last month, according to the U.K. press.

Wow.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

The First Stem Cell-Derived Organ Transplant: A Rat’s Tooth


The individual in the photo is not displaying his newly acquired gold tooth bling, but rather something more precious: the first fully functioning 3D organ derived from stem cells, described in PNAS as “a successful fully functioning tooth replacement in an adult mouse achieved through the transplantation of bioengineered tooth germ into the alveolar bone in the lost tooth region.”

More from The Wall Street Journal:

Researchers used stem cells to grow a replacement tooth for an adult mouse, the first time scientists have developed a fully functioning three-dimensional organ replacement, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers at the Tokyo University of Science created a set of cells that contained genetic instructions to build a tooth, and then implanted this “tooth germ” into the mouse’s empty tooth socket. The tooth grew out of the socket and through the gums, as a natural tooth would. Once the engineered tooth matured, after 11 weeks, it had a similar shape, hardness and response to pain or stress as a natural tooth, and worked equally well for chewing. The researchers suggested that using similar techniques in humans could restore function to patients with organ failure.

Press release from the Tokyo University of Science (in Japanese)…

Full story in WSJ: From Stem Cells to Tooth In the Mouth of a Mouse…

Takashi Tsuji Lab…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

You Can Have An Organ Transplant, But You Can’t Have The Drugs You Need To Keep It Healthy?

kidney_unc_470pixIn a provocative analysis of a 30-year old Medicare coverage loophole, John Schall explained the following (at the Medicare Policy Summit event):

1. Medicare covers kidney transplants for patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD). Transplant patients, of course, require life-long immunosupressive drugs to keep their bodies from rejecting the new kidney.

2. Medicare only covers immunosupressive drugs for 36 months total. These drugs are too expensive for most patients to afford out-of-pocket.

3. Many kidney transplant patients covered by Medicare are unable to continue their immunosupression regimen after 36 months, and slowly go into organ rejection.

4. Once they have rejected their transplanted kidney, they are eligible to receive a new one, fully covered by Medicare, with (you guessed it) 36 months of immunosuppresive drug coverage to follow.

Wouldn’t it just be cheaper to cover immunosuppresive drugs for the lifetime of the patient who receives an organ transplant? Yes, and that’s what lobbyists have been arguing for 30 years now, without a change in the rules.

Government-run healthcare can have its challenges… and this is only the beginning.

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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