Organ transplants fell significantly in 2010

Number of patients who died in transplant queue also higher than previous year.

January 12, 2011 04:37
2 minute read.
Organ transplants fell significantly in 2010

organ donation transplant 224 88. (photo credit: Courtesy of


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A significant decline in the number of organ transplants from deceased and live donors was noted by Israel Transplant in a summary report issued on Tuesday.

Just 228 organs were transplanted in 2010, compared to 282 in the previous year. In addition, the number of desperate people waiting for a suitable organ rose from 1,069 to 1,117, and 11.5 percent of those on the queue died, compared to 10% in 2009. At least 733 were waiting for kidneys, 159 for livers and 128 for hearts.

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Prof. Rafael Beyar, voluntary chairman of Israel Transplant and director-general of Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, said one reason for the decline was apparently that potential donors died at a later age, thus making them it impossible to use their hearts and in many cases lungs. Fully 36% of deceased donors were between 60 and 70 years old and half between 70 and 80.

Donated hearts can usually be used if the donor is aged under 60, while lungs can be used only when the donor is younger than 70.

There was, however, some good news.

The number of kidney transplants from altruistic live donors increased from 69 to 78. Most of the logistical problems in determining brain death have been fixed thanks to the addition of new equipment that determines when the lower-brain dies and organs can be harvested. Around 24,000 more Israelis registered with ADI as potential organ donors, with the total rising to 561,000. About half of families asked last year to donate organs of their loved ones agreed.

Brain death was not determined for 122 deceased, either because their families refused, logistical problems, the deceased lacked a consenting family member or brain death could not be determined for medical reasons.

Beyar said that this March, a program will be launched to encourage relatives of people who need kidneys but who are not tissue-compatible donors to donate to others, while the relatives of the recipients will be matched up with the would-be recipient.

Another program will boost the number of organs that can be transplanted from a person whose heartbeat stopped on its own, and not only from those who suffered lower-brain death. Numerous families – including that of the late former soccer star Avi Cohen – refuse to donate when the loved one’s lower brain dies but the heart is still beating. Harvesting organs after brain death is nevertheless preferable, as all organs can be used at this stage and only a minority are usable when the heartbeat stops.

Cohen carried a donor card, but it was ignored by his family, ADI said, after an extreme rabbi who befriended Cohen’s friend who became very Orthodox told them they would go to hell if they agreed to removal of his organs before his heart stopped beating.

Beyar encouraged Israelis to register with ADI by calling 1-800-200-560 or going to the website at Under a new arrangement, people who join ADI as potential donors and their first-degree relatives will next year get high priority for getting an organ if they need it.

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