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england cystic fibrosis cancer organ donor register

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#1 Hum

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 23:35

The father of a woman born with cystic fibrosis who died after being given a lung transplant from a smoker is calling for hospitals to tell patients about a donor's health history.

Jennifer Wederell, 27, died of cancer on August 24 at her home in Hawkwell, Essex, 16 months after being given the transplant at Harefield Hospital in London.

She was not told at the time of the transplant that the middle-aged donor had been a smoker.

Now Jennifer's father, Colin Grannell, says people facing organ transplants should be told of any adverse history from the donor that might affect a successful transplant.

He says he does not think his daughter would have agreed to the transplant if she had known the full facts.

The hospital says it is sorry she was not given the choice.

Jennifer, who was on oxygen for 24 hours a day by her mid-20s, had been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for 18 months when she was told there was a match in April 2011.

She received the transplant and married her long-term boyfriend, David, that same year.

But by February of this year, less than a year after the operation, Mrs Wederell had been diagnosed with cancer, with the terrible news that it had spread.

"The shock immediately turned to anger in so far as all the risks were explained in the hour before her transplant and not once was the fact that a smoker's lungs would be used mentioned," Mr Grannell told the Daily Mail.

"She was dying a death that was meant for someone else."

Mr Grannell has set up a Facebook site, Jennifer's Choice, to encourage non-smokers to sign up to the organ donor register.

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#2 Detection

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 23:39

Very sad story, but the question is, did the transplant give her the extra year ?

#3 Growled

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 23:43

My really surprised that they use a smoker's lung in the first place. They probably shouldn't.

#4 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 23:43

The lung was deemed medically healthy. More importantly it's not stated whether the cancer was related to the transplanted lung and it's well known that people who receive organ transplants have to take immunosuppressants, which severely weaken the immune system. This is a sad story but she was chronically ill before the transplant and it's entirely possible she wouldn't have faired any better with a non-smoker's lung.

My really surprised that they use a smoker's lung in the first place. They probably shouldn't.


From the article:

"It is very rare for patients to specify that they do not wish to be considered for clinically healthy lungs from smokers. This is because the risks are much higher if patients decline donor lungs from a former smoker, and decide to wait for another set of organs which are both a match for them and from a non-smoker, to become available. Regrettably, the number of lungs available for transplantation would fall by 40% if there was a policy of refusing those which have come from a smoker; waiting lists would increase and many more patients would die without a transplant."



#5 Growled

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 00:44

This is a sad story but she was chronically ill before the transplant and it's entirely possible she wouldn't have faired any better with a non-smoker's lung.


I guess we'll never know.

#6 DocM

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:35

Under the current US rules a current or past smoker can still be a donor. Also, there is no age limit on donation. Age is secondary to the person’s general health.

Exclusions include, but are nof limited to, being treated for cancer in the past 5 years, having a communicable disease like HIV or hepatitis, being a prostitute, and having injected illegal drugs within the past 5 years.

Personally, I'd have exhausted all other options before transplanting a smokers lung into a patient, and then I'd consider doing an MRI on them first. This has been described for several years (at least since 2008 for kidneys) and for high-risk organs makes sense to me.

#7 OP Hum

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:36

I guess her time was just up.

#8 ahhell

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:49

WTF? An ex-smoker should NEVER be allowed to be a lung donor.

#9 Mordkanin

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:51

WTF? An ex-smoker should NEVER be allowed to be a lung donor.


Because transplant organs are in such high supply that they can afford to reject everything that isn't perfect....

#10 ahhell

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 21:00

Because transplant organs are in such high supply that they can afford to reject everything that isn't perfect....

So they should get livers from ex-alcoholics too? Good plan.

#11 LaP

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 21:03

WTF? An ex-smoker should NEVER be allowed to be a lung donor.


I don't see why a smoker or ex smoker should not be able to donate a healthy lung.

This said she died only 16 months after the transplant so IF the cancer came from the lung then it was probably detectable when they gave it to her. Did they even test the lung donated for cancer ? I mean it would be logical since it came from a smoker.

#12 DrCheese

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 21:08

I think the issue with this case is that she wasn't given the choice, i.e she wasn't told the lungs were from a smoker.
She could have then came to her own decision about if it was worth the risk or not.

But yeah, they can't afford to reject lungs of smokers. It's sad, but there's simply not enough doners out there.

#13 DocM

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 22:01

So EVERYONE that's eligible should sign a donor card or check the box on the back of their drivers license. Please!?

#14 Growled

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 00:15

But yeah, they can't afford to reject lungs of smokers. It's sad, but there's simply not enough doners out there.


Maybe we need to actively pursue alternatives, like cloning the organs we need.

#15 Joswin

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 22:53

That's really terrible :( never would have occured to me that they would let smokers donate lungs..... I get that they are in short supply but wouldn't they be a 'final resort' considering well, this is what happens. Curing one disease by giving them another...



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