On average, heart transplants, the most successful of all the transplanted organs have added 4.9 years to a patient’s life. Those who had a combined pancreas-kidney lived an average of 4.6 years longer. Kidney recipients lived 4,4 years longer, liver recipients 4.3 years, intestine recipients 2.8 years and pancreas recipients 2.6 years. All in all 2.2 million years have been added to the lives of organ recipients in the past 25 years. According to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery, 533,329 patients have received organs between 1987 and 2012. More than half the extra years belong to people who had kidney transplants. Next are people who received new livers, then people who received hearts followed by people who received lungs, new pancreas, pancreas and kidneys together, then intestine. For a layperson such as myself there were surprises. I didn’t realize intestines were on the list of donated organs, nor did I realize the extent to which livers were transplanted.
And yet 579,506 patients were put on the transplant network waiting list, but did not receive an organ. It’s easy to imagine the anguish of those patients and their families. Somehow the fact that only 48% of patients needing organs receive them is a striking statistic. At some point in the future, it is possible that those waiting for an organ without being able to receive one could be a friend or member of our own family. There is to my knowledge no study of what people do with the years gained from being an organ recipient. I venture to say that rare is the person who did not make use of being given another chance or a chance to make their life count or succeed in however small a way. The bottom line remains though that less than half of those who need transplants are able to receive them. We definitely need more awareness and more people willing to donate their organs