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Living Donor Risks OPTN

And Yet More On Living Donor Deaths

Everyone knows a writer’s perrogative is to find ways of procrastinating actual writing. In my case, it leads me to read transplant-related articles and comment on them (at least I’m being productive; although some would say vacuuming would be a better use of my time).

Today it’s the OPTN/UNOS Membership and Professional Standards Committee Report from July 09. From page 3 (all emphasis mine):

OPTN staff presented an analysis of living donor deaths not reported to the Patient Safety System (PSS). Between 2006 and 2008, there were 26 living donor deaths that occurred within 2 years of donation. Of these deaths, 15 were not reported to the PSS. Several programs did not know of the deaths and knowledge of then came from the Social Security Death Master File. Other programs reported the deaths to the OPTN via the Living Donor Follow Up form and stated that they were unaware of the policy requirement to report these deaths in the PSS.

1. So 15/26 living donors were not reported even though there is mandatory policy in place regarding living donor deaths. That’s nearly 58% of LD deaths not reported. The statistical difference between 9 and 26, which is significant regardless of how math-challenged you may be.

2. “Several programs did not know of the deaths”. Of course they didn’t; they release living donors into the care of their primary care physician the moment they’re discharged from the hospital, and don’t bother to make sure a primary care physician exists! Refer to my prior posts regarding the egregious number of LDs ‘lost to follow-up’ per the transplant centers, and their lack of effort in trying to find these people. All point to a “Don’t Care” attitude regarding living donors and their long-term health and well-being.

3. “stated they were unaware of the policy requirement to report these deaths in the PSS”. Don’t quote me, but I’m thinking this is probably standard operating procedure for hospitals in the case of patient deaths, yes?

The sad part is that we don’t know how or why any of these living donors died; that information isn’t required or shared in the databases. This gap allows some people to assume the worse (ie, that all the deaths are directly tied to the donation) and others to minimize the tragedy and deny any of the deaths as being related to the donation. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, I’m sure, but the problem is, unless the medical community stops with the protests and starts taking care of living donors like they should, more will die needlessly, and that is inexcusable.

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