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Director: “A life-changing gift deserves life-changing care.”
DETROIT – The Henry Ford Transplant Institute today kicks off the celebration of 50 years of transplant with a pioneering advance in patient care: the creation of the Henry Ford Center for Living Donation.
By donating a kidney or part of their liver, living donors’ selfless gift saves lives and shortens the waiting list. The dedicated team of doctors, nurses, social workers, former patients and other staff of the Center for Living Donation will focus on a donor-centered experience, addressing the physical, psychological, emotional and financial needs of the donor.
“We refer to our living donors as ‘angels on Earth,’” said Dr. Marwan Abouljoud, chair of the Henry Ford Transplant Institute and a pioneer in living liver donation. “We are honored to be able to become one of the first medical systems in the United States with a center dedicated to their care. What a way to celebrate our first transplant 50 years ago – a kidney on Jan. 4, 1968.”
About 6,000 people in the United States make the selfless decision to donate a kidney or part of their liver to family members, friends or strangers each year. Yet much of the organ donation process focuses on the recipient. The Henry Ford Transplant Institute intends to change that, with the creation of the ground-breaking Center for Living Donation (CLD), led by Henry Ford kidney transplant surgeon Jason Denny, M.D.
The new Henry Ford Center for Living Donation provides a concierge service of dedicated staff to provide donors with support, educational material and answers to questions about living donation before, during and after their procedure. Dedicated Living Donor Coordinator, Medical Assistant and Nurse Practitioner help with physical, psychological, emotional and financial needs. And donors can expect the latest advances in transplant, including robotic surgery, acupuncture for pain control, and inpatient education iPads available for use.
“The wait for a kidney transplant on the list can be as long as five years or more in the state of Michigan and longer on the East Coast – and there is no guarantee that any individual on the list will be transplanted,” Dr. Denny said. “This degree of uncertainty is removed completely with living donation, which is why we want to do everything we can to make both donors and recipients feel comfortable with making this decision. A life-changing gift deserves life-changing care.”
Benefits of live donation include:
- Live organ transplant can often be scheduled prior to the recipient becoming significantly ill (or for kidney patients, before the initiation of dialysis).
- The health history of the donor is known well in advance, which allows significantly more screening and planning by medical staff.
- Organs donated through living donation typically last longer and work immediately.
- For those suffering kidney failure, long-term dialysis has negative effects on the body. This is especially true for diabetic patients, who suffer from severely accelerated mortality on dialysis.
Living donors make the decision to donate for multiple reasons. The donor may be giving to a family member or friend – about 50% of live donations occur between relatives. Or some make the decision to donate an organ altruistically to a stranger. Social workers, psychologists and others at the Center for Living Donation are dedicated to ensuring donors proceed with a clear understanding of their motivation, as well as what to expect after the procedure.
While donating an organ is a very low-risk procedure for the donor, it is still a surgery and carries the associated risks. The Center for Living Donation is dedicated to ensuring all patients understand these risks. Center team members will make recommendations with the donor’s utmost safety in mind. Every living donor is assigned an independent living donor advocate to ensure they understand the process and have a personal contact for non-medical questions. And Center staff help living donors navigate insurance and other resources for expenses that may arise as a result of the transplant.
Center for Living Donation staff are also available to help recipients navigate the delicate process of reaching out to those who may be willing to consider living donation. Staff can help with resources to educate potential donors about the process of living donation and how to begin the screening process.
An added benefit of the creation of the Center for Living Donation may be an increase the number of living organ donations overall, Dr. Denny said. Again, about 6000 people were transplanted by living donors in 2016 – but that left 122,000 people still waiting for transplants. The center will also focus on quality, innovation and ongoing ground-breaking research to ensure continued advances in living donation.
“Additional education and assurance about the safety of live donation may affect those numbers,” Dr. Denny said. “And the increased awareness of need could increase the number of people who consider deceased organ donation.”
For those seeking more information on living donation, please visit HenryFord.com/livingdonor.
Senior Specialist, Media Relations
Henry Ford Health System