Get the Federal Government out of the program.
And finally - Make it so no transplantation is ever required.
IN HONOR OF NATIONAL ORGAN DONOR APPRECIATiON WEEK HERE'S A GREAT
STORY ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY MAKE ORGAN TRANSPLANTATION WORK- THE
HEARTS & MINDS
By Bill Heavey
The first image in the slide presentation is of an astronaut walking in
space. Just like the astronaut, Linda Ohler tells her prospective
patients, a person receiving a transplanted heart has support team of
experts doing everything they can to ensure a safe outcome. But every
walk is different, and every walk is dangerous. Nobody knows exactly
what' s out there or what will happen. And nobody can take that walk for
By the time most people are talking to Linda, they have end-stage heart
disease: Their choice is a transplant or nothing. Still, she wants them
going into this with open eyes. Linda works at Fairfax Hospital, as a
heart and lung transplant coordinator and nurse; preparing these people
is part of her job. She tells them one in five will die waiting for a
heart after being placed on the transplant list. Of the survivors, one in
10 will die in the first year after transplant. The last image in her
slide presentation is a cartoon of a fellow sitting on an examining table
and looking up at a sign that reads, "Ask about our warranty on all
parts." It's the sugar coating on a bitter pill. Here, nothing is
Peggy Emge is taking the walk. Looking down through the theater windows
in the ceiling above Operating Room 15, Linda can see her lying on the
table. Peggy's old heart, the one she carried for 54 years through three
heart attacks, two angioplasties and bypass surgery - now sits in a metal
bowl out of the glare of the lights. Her new heart, taken from the body
of a 20year-old woman who died in a car wreck last night, is sitting
dormant in her chest cavity, bathed in a red slush of crushed ice and a
cardioplegia solution to keep it comatose until, the surgical team
finishes sewing it in with needles curved like fish hooks.
Linda, like the other two transplant coordinators at Fairfax, is almost
always too busy to watch the surgery. A small woman with wavy auburn hair
and brown eyes that draw you in when she talks, she works at any given
moment with an average of 30 patients waiting for hearts and lungs. She
is just one member of the transplant team, but she is her patients'
primary contact, their guide from the moment they enter the hospital
until, breathing or not, they leave. As they take each step further into
the uncertainty, she is their constant.
Linda met Peggy months ago, when the garrulous coal miner's daughter from
Pittsburgh was in and out of Fairfax on ever-increasing doses of heart
drugs: Lasix, digitalis, potassium, metolazone and captopril.
Linda would talk with her several times a week, gauging her symptoms and
listening to the nuances of fear in her voice. Then she would consult
with Peggy' s doctor and adjust the mix of medications for a while, or
bring her into the hospital for a "tune-up" in the intensive care unit
with intravenous drugs. Over time their bond developed to the point that
Peggy's condition often worsened on the Fridays when a coordinator other
than Linda would be on duty for the weekend. Sometimes Linda would break
her own rule, telling Peggy how to get in touch with her while she was
supposed to be off.
And now, after 88 days in the hospital, after missing the Redskins' home
opener for the first time since 1964, Peggy is getting a new heart. Linda
calls Renee Troy, a cardiac telemetry nurse who has been Peggy's
immediate caregiver, to come see the operation. "Look how smooth and
juicy it is," Renee murmurs. "God, that's a beautiful heart."
A puff of smoke appears above the body where the surgeon has cauterized a
vein with an electric gun. Linda is transfixed. After nine years at
Fairfax, she knows the human heart has a will of its own. Take it from
one body, pack it in ice, put it in a strange new body, and nine times
out of 10 it doesn't even require an electric shock to remember its
In a few minutes, Linda will go speak to the family, dazed from being
summoned to the hospital at 2 a.m. but ecstatic all the same. They've
already been through two false alarms, candidate hearts that looked
healthy but at the last minute proved diseased. She knows that the
family-just like the patient when she awakens will need to bask in this
miracle of answered prayers. While it's true that the most dangerous time
is over, Peggy is by no means safe. For the rest of her life she will be
on powerful drugs to fool her body' s immune system enough so it won't
reject the foreign tissue. The more drugs she takes, the greater the risk
of lifethreatening infections and viruses. She will require regular
biopsies of her new heart to assess the degree of rejection. A
pathologist looks at the sample under a microscope and scores it from
zero to 10. Anything above four is a rejection. An episode of rejection
or infection severe enough to land Peggy back in the hospital in the next
year is more likely than not.
Down in the operating room, the profusionist, sitting at the console of a
bypass machine that takes over for the heart and lungs during surgery,
adjusts knobs and checks his LED readouts for blood gas levels. He is
slowly warming the blood from 30 degrees centigrade back up to body
temperature, 37 degrees. A nurse spoons out melting ice from the chest.
The surgeon, leaning his hands on the table, simply stands and watches
for a long time, checking for leaks in the plumbing. The surgical team
will close only when he's satisfied.
Inside Peggy's chest, the new heart begins to pound. Linda presses her
lips together and blinks back a tear.
On the wall in Linda' s office is a picture of her with five other women
in evening clothes out for a night on the town in New York. They are all
friends, transplant coordinators from hospitals around the country. Linda
says it's a job you either quit after three months or fall in love with.
All six women in the photo are single or divorced. Linda, at 52, has been
married twice: once for 10 years, once for 15. Two years ago her husband,
a pharmacist and very successful businessman, told her he was tired of
being married to a woman who was never home. He asked her to choose
between their relationship and her job. She chose.
She works 70-hour weeks. Every third week, she is on call 24 hours a day.
She is accustomed to being awakened in the middle of the night with word
that a heart is available and swinging into action: making calls to the
team that will bring it to the hospital, to the operating room and the
intensive care unit, to the surgeon and, lastly, to the patient or nurse
on call. She has a grown daughter. She lives with her boyfriend. She
feels that she was born to do this work. She never wants to be anybody's
The adrenaline rush is the least of it though. What she traffics in is
trust built up over time - time her patients know they may or may not
have. They go on a honeymoon of hope the first few weeks after they're
listed for a new heart. But then more weeks pass and their condition
deteriorates and no heart appears and they lose their ability to
concentrate and the wait gets longer and they feel condemned to a game of
chance in which they may die before the wheel stops spinning. Linda knows
the pattern, and she can help the patients through it; the more open they
are with her, the more she can help. The nurses feed, bathe, medicate.
The doctors examine, theorize, prescribe. The coordinators give hope.
The procedure today is a transforming event. In I967, when Christian
Barnard transplanted the heart of a 24 year-old woman into the chest of a
55-year-old man, the patient lived 18 days. Most of the first 100
transplant recipients died within 30 days. But with the development of
powerful immuno-suppressant drugs in the early 1980s, the procedure
became more refined. It is not a cure; it simply exchanges an
unmanageable condition-death for a manageable one, which is living with
an organ your body will never come to accept as its own. Still, an
uncertain future beats a sure death hands down.
The operation is performed about 2,400 times a year in the United States,
including 25 to 50 times in this region, 12 to 20 times at Fairfax
Hospital. There could be more operations if there were more hearts - the
national number has leveled off in recent years, even as doctors have
turned to using older donor organs to expand the pool. The average
patient spends six months on the transplant list. Last year in this
country, two people died every day as they waited.
So the wait itself is a transforming experience, which is why patients
bond so singularly to coordinators like Linda. She leads them along the
path as they meet with the others: the social worker, the financial and
insurance coordinator, the psychiatrist, the infectious disease
specialist, the nurses, immunologists, cardiologists and surgeons. She
listens to their bodies, draws blood and sets up their cardiac
catheterization and stress tests. She explains the physiology of the
heart and why it is that they can't get their breath or stop coughing or
full asleep unless propped up right. She translates the doctors' dense
language into words they can understand. She listens to their fears when
the guilt of waiting for a stranger' s death to give them life become
unbearable. She receives their hugs and high-fives when they return,
years later, to show off photos of grand children they got to watch grow
up. And when they die,she is the one who breaks tie news to the relatives
and answers their questions about what went wrong and sits with them
while they cry. Sometimes she cries with them and sometimes she doesn't
and sometimes she shuts the door to her tiny office up on the 10th floor
in the transplant center to cry by herself. Still, she feels that she was
born to be here, a midwife to people in this purgatory between life and
"I'm sorry I didn't call you this weekend," Linda says penitently as she
walks into George Fanourgakis's room. "I had to go to a conference in
California." She kneels down before him and bows her head for
forgiveness. George makes a miniature cross in the air above her head,
smiling in spite of himself, and she rises to receive a kiss. It's a kind
of ritual with them. She already knows what he's thinking. "Ah, George,"
she sighs. "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, right'?"
Just two days ago he was watching the Redskins play I the Giants with
Peggy. "I have chills in my body from happy that Peggy have a heart," he
protests to Linda. "She is wonderful person, need heart desperate like
George, born in Crete 60 years ago, would have been dead four weeks ago
but for the left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. It's a machine only
slightly larger than a VCR. A hose runs up between his legs and connects
to a titanium pump implanted in his chest. Inside the pump are valves
removed from a pig's heart. They have taken over for George's aortic and
George owned a series of successful restaurants in Laurel before two
heart attacks and the implantation of a defibrillator. A year and a half
ago, the doctors checked his heart and discovered that 85 percent of it
was dead. Two months ago, the doctors decided that his condition had
deteriorated to the point where he could not be maintained outside the
hospital. He wears a nitroglycerin patch and is hooked up to an IV. He
smiles, but the fear shows in his eyes.'
He knows all the reasons why Peggy got the heart. Her need was equally
acute, and she had seniority by virtue of having been in the hospital
longer. The heart was too small for him anyway. It simply wouldn't have
Hearts and other organs are politically correct by nature, blind to
differences of race, sex and religion. Limiting factors are that the
heart must be healthy, from someone of roughly the same weight, and of
the same blood type. Every time a new organ becomes available, a
computerized list of potential recipients is generated by the nationwide
United Network for Organ Sharing. The heart goes to the sickest person of
that blood type whose body size is within 25 percent of the donor's. All
other factors being equal and they seldom are - the candidate who has
been waiting the longest has priority.
Transplants take place under a carefully controlled double-blind system
The recipient may write the donor's family through a third party and then
it's up to the family if they want to get in touch. Sometimes they do.
One family Linda knows meets regularly with the man who received their
son's heart When they greet each other, the mother takes the man by the
wrist and searches until she finds his pulse. She rests her finger there.
She calls it "talking with my son."
Most mothers are not so generous. Linda does a lot of work to promote
organ donation. She'll tell any group she can find that it's not enough
to check the donor box on your drive's license application, that you need
to talk with your family about it beforehand, because once you're on life
support they're the ones with the power to say yes or no. More than half
the time, they say no. Across the country 10 people die every day waiting
for kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs.
No one knows when the next heart is coming through the door. It could be
tonight or six months from now. So all George knows is that his friend
Peggy has hurdled the biggest obstacle and left him behind, more alone
than he has ever been in his life. "Wait. Wait. Wait," he says. "I try to
keep my spirits up. Give myself hope. It's going to come. You don't have
no other choice." He is a man of the old school. He sees nothing to be
gained from voicing his despair. From George's room, the sound of medevac
helicopters alighting on the pad outside can be heard. At such moments,
he becomes more alert in spite of himself. If it were bringing a heart
for him, he would already know. Still, the sound of the rotors is the
sound of hope.
Linda rubs his gray crew cut and says she likes the new style. "Women
like to do this. It feels good," she says. She can do this with him; she
knows the boundaries of their bond, intimate yet proscribed. From her
perspective, George is doing well. He's not in any imminent danger and
the depression and anxiety are natural at this stage. That he can flirt
with her is all to the good, and she will do all she can to distract and
sympathize with him. "Where am I on I the list?" George asks, "A doctor,
he tell me I am next now, but ..."
Linda stiffens. Sometimes a doctor only passingly familiar with a
patient's case will say something he shouldn't. "I gotta find out. I'll
let you know this afternoon," Linda says. "Promise."
"There's another guy here waiting?" George asks. News travels fast in
hospitals. "Yes. Mr. Crosby. Across the hall."
"But he's a different type?" George asks this almost too casually.
Yes, Linda tells him. Mr. Crosby is a B. At this moment a nurse comes in
to note readings on the LVAD. "How you doing babe?" she asks George.
"I ain't dead, babe," he says, smiling and giving her a thumbs-up. She
scratches on her clipboard and departs. Linda feigns indignation. "I
can't believe you were flirting with her right in front of me," she says,
stamping her foot.
George makes a broad gesture of helplessness, indicating that a man has
no choice in such matters. The LVAD tocks on. It is a triple-redundant
machine: If the hospital's emergency power and the machine' s reserve
battery fail, a hand crank can be unfolded from the back of the device.
"Worse part of machine is it has power over you," he says. "You can't go
nowhere and it never shuts up. I have the brains. But between the two of
us, the machine is boss."
Linda Says she'll call this afternoon and walks over to touch his
shoulder good-bye. He intercepts her hand and kisses it. He smiles at
her. When she leaves, his face slackens. The LVAD never misses a beat.
"You never think it' s going to happen to you," says Mary Cross from her
hospital bed. She is a 46-year-old law librarian with soft features and
short hair framing rimless glasses, a nonsmoker with no history of heart
disease or high cholesterol. Last January, she gained 21 pounds in as
many days. Her doctor ordered an echocardiogram. When he got the results,
he told her to meet him at the hospital. He theorized that a virus had
somehow attacked her heart, causing it to stretch and weaken. Unable to
pump efficiently, the heart allowed blood to back up into her lungs and
veins. The kidneys, receiving an inadequate supply of blood, responded by
retaining water and salt in the body, adding to the overworked heart's
burden. Her doctors tried putting her on drugs; they tried implanting a
defibrillator. She became so sick she was admitted to the hospital in
July. Ten days later she was listed for transplant.
When Linda met with her, Mary was pale and weak. She insisted throughout
her first session that she felt fine. Over the weeks, Mary came to trust
Linda. It was to her that Mary confided her feelings of helplessness and
fear of being alone. Linda knew that transplant patients' families
sometimes don't know how to react to the sight of their loved ones
tethered by hoses and tubes and strapped up with electrodes and radios
that I signal nurses when the heart falters. The relatives may be afraid
to touch them for fear of hurting them.
For Mary's birthday, Linda suggested a date with her husband, Mike Petit.
"We'll get you a VCR, arrange for your roommate to be moved to another
room for a few hours," she said. "Just don't put salt on the popcorn or
light the candles. Let him crawl into bed and hold you." Mary and Mike
watched Michael Douglas and Annette Bening in "The American President."
They drank soda and cuddled and talked about the hope that their decision
to go ahead with the transplant offered. They kissed and said they loved
each other and resolved to see this thing through. '
She lies flat in her bed and tries to smile. "Someone called and asked me
how to get to the hospital and I said, 'I don't know. I usually come in
an ambulance.' "Unlike George and Peggy, Mary had little time to get used
to the idea that she needed a new heart. "My neighbors and friends have
organized a blood drive for me. They've' been wonderful." She closes her
eyes for a moment to compose herself. "Now I'm just waiting.".,
Mary has already gone through the stage of feeling guilty. "I don't want
anything bad to happen to anybody. But I know now that something good can
come out of something bad.. Helga, a woman from my church, said it's like
what Jesus did, dying so other people can have life. That helped me a
lot" She used to worry about whether her house was spotless and the
library in perfect order. Now she looks forward to the little things:
breakfast, when she still has her appetite; the six hours a day when
she's not hooked up to the IV and can take a shower instead of a sponge
bath; the play of autumnal light outside her window.
Linda sits at the foot of Peggy's bed and listens. It is two days after
the transplant, and Peggy is revved on infection fighting steroids and
the miracle of her new life. Her daughter, Terri, and son-in-law, George,
are there, too. "I feel like a new person. There's light at the end of
the tunnel. Those last couple of weeks I was really sliding down. I
thought I was a goner. Now I want to write a letter to that family.
They're the real heroes. You guys," she motions to Linda with her hand,
"are just the mechanics."
Linda laughs. She loves Peggy's scrappiness, how she started out as a
stenographer at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Crystal City and retired
after 35 years as an administrative officer in charge of 1,500 people. "I
want to do some volunteer work for the transplant program, tell people
that their loved ones can live on after they die," Peggy says. "I'm still
grasping the miracle. When my dad died at 62 they didn't have bypass or
angioplasty. You want to see my scar'? It's beautiful." Terri is three
months pregnant and now Peggy is counting on living to see the child.
"I'm so thankful. They put me in here June 20, and I had the transplant
on September 16. By the end. I'd have taken the heart of a Dallas
Her voice drops when the subject turns to George. She's worried about
him. Before he was on the LVAD, they'd take walks down the hall attached
to their IVs. They called themselves "the drips." She sighs. "I was
jealous as hell when a woman got her heart before me. I admit it. And I
know what George is, feeling now. I want to help him, but right now I
think he's got to come to me first."
A few days later, Mary Cross gets a new heart. It requires shocks to get
started, beats on its own for a bit, then simply stops. The doctors
relist her the next day for a second transplant, but no heart is
available. Seventy-two hours after the surgery, Mary Cross dies. The
cause of death is listed as primary graft failure. This is the medical
term for a heart transplant that simply doesn't take. No one knows
Linda gets the news after her beeper goes off during a meeting away from
the hospital and rushes back. She changes out of her street clothes and
into her nurse scrubs to meet the family. This is partly out of respect
for them and partly because scrubs provide a kind of flimsy armor for
what she must now do.
She sits with the family for 45 minutes, answering their questions,
crying with them. She is surprised at how little anger they have. It
seems to her that this family understands intuitively what so few people
do: just how fleeting and precious life is, how little control the best
doctors or anyone else has over it, how nothing is guaranteed.
At one point, one of Mary's brothers sees Linda' s tears and says, "This
must be as hard for you as it is for us." She stops him, the same way she
stops the people who pull through and joyfully declare they owe it all to
her. She tells Mary's family that it does hurt, but not the same way it
hurts for them. At last they thank her and leave.
In the end, she is only a well-intentioned and competent helper. She
knows there is a line between the professional and the personal, and she
crosses it all the time. You pay a price for crossing that line, but you
pay a different kind of price if you don' t. She has erred on both sides,
and now she just follows her feelings about people and takes the
consequences. If her caring could save lives, none of them would die. But
it can't. So she exults in the lives saved and grieves for the dead and
gets on with her work.
As she walks down the hall, Linda encounters a woman in street clothes
who has just stepped off the elevator and is looking around uncertainly,
a little bit scared. Linda stops and looks into her face. "Can I help
you?" she asks softly. "Do you know where you're going?"
Washington Post Magazine, November 24, 1996
Contributed by Myrna Porter, Woodbridge, VA
Tx David Balsam, of Brooklyn, almost 7 years post
bilateral lung tx (May 17,1990), sends us the first report for the 1997
season on our famous product "Cyclo-Repel" for defense against
"I have information to add to your never ending interest in
Cyclo-Repel. I was on cyclo for 5 years and never got bitten when others
around me got eaten up. In '95 I switched to Prograf and I can't say it
has the same effect. I was in the Everglades recently. The Everglades,
you understand, is king of mosquito environments. Luckily, I wasn't there
in summertime when it is worst. Well, we got there around 5 PM and had a
30 foot walk from car to cabin in which we were literally attacked by
swarms of mosquitoes. These buggers did not care that I was on Prograf
they stopped for nothing. Also, I spent some time in Key West, a
sub-tropical climate with their share of insects and also found myself
the frequent victim of bites. Oh well, I guess l'll have to wait till
cyclo comes in a liquid lotion formula to regain my insect immunity.
UpBeat has heard one or two comments regarding the
potential unfairness to people waiting for hearts of bringing a girl from
Japan to the U.S. for a heart transplant, not because of expertise not
available in Japan, but because organ donation is generally not permitted
in that country.
NEW ORGAN TRANSPLANT PROCUREMENT POLICY?
By M.R. Kropko - Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP 4/4/97)-- A policy that would allow doctors to remove
organs from brain-damaged patients before they are declared brain-dead
was considered last year by a top heart transplant center.
The Cleveland Clinic Hospital put the plan on hold in October until legal
issues are resolved. A prosecutor warned the practice could be considered
The so-called "non-heart beating protocol" sought to improve the speed of
organ donation. The legal concern was that it could cut off life support
from brain-damaged -but not yet brain-dead-- patients if no pulse was
felt in the neck for at least two minutes. The removal would require
approval from relatives of the patient.
Because organs are in high demand for transplants and deteriorate without
oxygen, there is a premium on declaring death quickly.
Dr. John Clough, the hospital's director of health affairs, said clinic
officials have met with Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Carmen
"We went and discussed it with him and were surprised to learn that he
considered this potential homicide," Clough said Thursday. "We said we
wouldn't perform it without informing him, but we have not said that we
would never do it."
Marino said he was told of the plan by students working on a thesis. He
said a key issue was the suggested use of a drug that reduces blood
pressure to the extent that "it might be impossible for the attending
physician to get a carotid pulse, which is what they determine death
Clough said the drug in question does not induce death but dilates blood
vessels so that blood can flow to the organs. Clough said death is
determined by a number of factors -- never just by lack of a carotid
The plan would allow doctors to take organs from patients "with
devastating brain stem damage," Clough said. The brain stem helps control
heart and lung functions.
The Plain Dealer reported today that the plan was endorsed last year by
the medical advisory board of LifeBanc, an organ bank. The clinic was to
have been a test site before other hospitals put the plan in place, the
Cleveland newspaper said.
Clough said the protocol is performed in at least 20 other centers around
the country. He did not name the centers.
Cleveland - More
CLEVELAND, (UPI 4/4/97) -- The Cleveland Clinic has suspended plans to
obtain transplant organs using a procedure a prosecutor said amounts to
The procedure was to have involved brain-injured -- not brain-dead --
patients. They were to have been taken off life support and given two
drugs, Heparin and Regitine, to keep their organs suitable for
transplatation. Heparin stops blood from clotting and Regitine opens
arteries and veins, but drastically reduces blood pressure.
But the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer said Assistant Prosecutor Carmen Marino,
alerted to the plan by a Cleveland State University philosophy professor,
said the procedure could violate Ohio's death and homicide laws.
Marino said, "Either the Regitine drops the blood pressure so much it
kills the patient or it drops the blood pressure so much that
(physicians) cannot get a carotid pulse. In any event, they declare death
by lack of a carotid pulse. Then they go in and take the organs."
Marino added, "We called all over the country and talked to bioethicists
in every major facet of medicine. And to a person, they are either
saying, 'This is outrageous. This is murder.' Or, 'What are you trying to
do, kill the person?'"
However, the Cleveland Clinic' s director of health affairs, Dr. John
Clough, said, "It is not true the drugs kill in the doses given and is
not true they obscure life signs so you can't tell if a person is alive
Clough said the hospital had planned to use an electronic heart monitor
to ensure a donor' s heart had stopped beating for at least two
CLONING PIGS FOR HEART TRANSPLANTS TO HUMANS
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP 3/24/97) -- The company that helped clone Dolly
the sheep said Monday it hopes to clone pigs with hearts suitable for
PPL Therapeutics, which is collaborating with the scientific team that
cloned Dolly, said it hoped the research would ultimately ease a massive
shortage in donor organs and save millions of lives.
Scientists already are studying using pig hearts, livers and kidneys
because there aren't enough human organs available for people who need
But some have raised concerns that transplants from animals could
introduce new viruses to the human population. A study by British
scientists published this month supports these concerns: It concluded
that a virus apparently found in healthy pigs can infect human tissue.
Despite a moratorium in Britain on using animal organs in humans, PPL
Therapeutic's managing director, Ron James, said he plans to go ahead
with the research.
At the announcement of PPL's first annual results, he said, "By the time
we get around to trials, either the moratorium will have been lifted or
we will be able to do them somewhere else."
James said other companies were attempting to be first to develop the
Unmodified pigs' hearts are already a good match for humans in terms of
size and function, although they can be rejected by the human body.
Specially created animals that produce human sugars on the surfaces of
their organs, however, could fool the recipient into accepting the
transplanted heart as human. Such pigs have already been created by other
Now, however, hit-and-miss genetic engineering must be used to insert
human genes into a pig cell. If it takes, that pig is then bred.
James said PPL's technology could be used to produce cloned pigs with the
The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh announced on Feb. 23 its researchers
had created Dolly using cells from another sheep's udder. It was the
first time scientists had used such a technique to clone a mammal.
COLUMBUS TO HOST U.S. TRANSPLANT GAMES IN 1998
COLUMBUS, Ohio, (UPI 3/26/97) --Columbus will host the 1998 U.S. Summer
Transplant Games, with Ohio State University the site of many of the
events scheduled for Aug. 4-8, 1998.
The executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Ohio, Donald
Slobodien, said the Olympic-style games -- held every two years -- are
open to anybody who has received an organ transplant.
Slobodien told UPI, "Our mission is to raise national awareness of the
need for organs and transplantation."
The director said nationally, 49,000 people are on a transplant waiting
list. "Nine-to-10 people die every day while waiting for an organ because
there's not enough available. That's the critical mission behind the
As many as 2,000 people from across the nation, including more than 100
from Ohio, arc expected to take part in 13 sporting competitions. Track
and field events will be held at Ohio Stadium, while OSU's Larkin Field
House will be the site for swimming, racquet ball and three-on-three
basketball. Participants will be housed in OSU dormitories.
TRANSPLANT RECORD-BREAKER MARKS 1 YEAR
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., (UPI 4/7/97) -- A General Motors engineer is
starting the second year of a new life Monday after setting a U.S. record
for the most organs transplanted into one adult body.
Jeff Gurunian of suburban Detroit received five new organs one year ago
-small intenstines, large intestines, liver, pancreas and stomach.
Gurunian needed an internal makeover because Crohn's disease had ravaged
his original organs. His underwent 27 hours of surgery in a Miami
The 40-year-old says he now leads a normal life.
Last year Gurunian told The Detroit News he was "sort of pessimistic at
first" that the surgery could save his life.
"Before the transplant I used to weigh 105 pounds and was very yellow,"
He said. "Now I weigh 145 pounds and I feel great."
Even though he has a whole new digestive system Gurunian says he still
has the same cravings for food.
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