Departmental News

UPDATE ON KIDNEY TRANSPLANTATION: Living Donors Giving the Gift of Life

Our transplantation program—the only solid organ transplantation program on Long Island—has been responsible for more than 500 kidney transplants since its inception in 1981. We're proud of this life-saving work, but there continues to be a critical shortage of donors to supply the kidneys that could save many more lives.

There are now about 50,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States. Here at Stony Brook, we have 240 patients waiting for a kidney transplant.

Last year, we performed transplants for 56 members of the Long Island community, 39 of whom received kidneys from cadaver donors and 17 from living-related or living-unrelated donors.

Saving More Lives with Our Living Donation Program

Thanks to advances in medical technology, the use of organs from living donors is increasing. This approach is possible because a person actually needs only one of their two kidneys, and can spare the other. Nationally, one third of all donors are living.

At Stony Brook we have had a great deal of success with our living donation program—parents donating for their children, sisters donating for their brothers, husbands donating for their wives, and friends donating for their friends. Last year, we successfully transplanted an "unrelated" kidney from a son-in-law to his mother-in-law, a first for our program.

Rates of both graft and patient survival for the recipient of living donations are very high. In fact, recent studies indicate that the graft survival rate in patients who receive kidneys from living-unrelated donors is nearly equal to that of kidneys from living-related donors.

A recent reorganization of the transplantation program has enabled us to improve the quality of patient care and to increase the number of patients on the waiting list for kidney transplants. In fact, we increased our list by over 100% to its present level of 240 individuals.

We have decreased our length of stay in the hospital to seven days, a decrease from 1997's 13-day length of stay, without any loss in the quality of care rendered. This was done through a team effort and the creation of a care map for the kidney recipient and donor. In fact, the living donor has a length of stay of just five days in most cases.

Giving the gift of life is a tremendous gift that does not have to wait for a person to die. At Stony Brook we continue to help families decide what is right for them and their loved ones, and as our program expands, we are saving more and more lives through the "miracle" of transplantation.

For more information about our kidney transplantation program, please call 631-444-2209.

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