A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that around 3500 kidneys that are donated for transplants are discard every year. And with 93,000 in the US on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, the question of why any kidney that might be able to help some would be discarded, is a pretty relevant one.
Kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death in the US, behind abortion. The parameters of the study which concluded that 3500 kidneys from donaters were discarded annually are this. Between 2004 and 2014, 156,089 kidney donations were made. Of that 128,102 kidneys were used in transplants, while the other 27,987 were discarded.
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While that means a little over 17% of kidneys in the US are discarded, it is due to the kidneys being older than doctors prefer, and less healthy than doctors want. As opposed to the French, who are more willing to transplant older kidneys, and will accept kidneys with less healthy records. The discard rate in France is about 9% due to that fact. Not to mention, the population of France and the US are much different, in number and in health.
A kidney might have more chances of being discarded in the US for financial reasons as well. Since a kidney that is older, or does not have the best medical history might cause the patient to remain in the hospital longer, which will rack up the bills.
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The National Kidney Foundation conducted another study in which they determined about half of the kidneys being discarded could have been used in transplants.
After hearing about this, the United Network for Organ Sharing is trying to fix this issue. In 2012 they created the still-used-today kidney index which estimates the life span of a donated kidney. And now they are looking to European nations that use a so-called “old for old” system. In this approach, older patients might be better suited to an “older” kidney.
The US spends $114 billion annually on patients with kidney disease, while it is one of the biggest problems the US faces for the health of its people, organizations are looking to make the kidney transplant more cost-efficient, while giving every patient their second chance.