2008 was a vintage year for used organs

279 organ transplants performed, 46% of families asked agreed to donate, and 32% of those waiting for surgery received organs.

organ donation transplant 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy of www.linksambulance.co.uk)
organ donation transplant 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy of www.linksambulance.co.uk)
Last year was a good one for organ transplants in Israel, with 279 performed, 46% of families asked agreeing to donate and 32% of those waiting for surgery getting organs. However, the number of people needing a kidney, liver, heart or other organs is growing all the time, and now totals 923, according to the Health Ministry. In 2008, there were more combinations of organs - such as a liver and kidney, two lungs, kidney, pancreas, heart and lungs - transplanted. Kidneys were the most common, with 97 such operations, but already in 2009 there are 598 people waiting. Twenty heart or heart-lung transplants were performed last year, but 167 are still in the queue for one of these organs. Israel Transplant said 28 children are waiting for organs, especially kidneys. Fifty lungs - constituting a new record rate per capita - were transplanted during the year. The rate of organ donations per million residents was 6.8 in Israel, compared to 9.9 in Australia, 4.8 in the US and 3.5 in Germany. A total of 72 Israeli families agreed to donate their loved ones' organs in 2008, but 83 refused. In addition to the 279 transplants, 636 corneas were donated, along with 41 donations of skin and 33 heart valves. Sixteen bone donations were made for orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation of bone cancer and treatment of stress fractures and other conditions. Israel Transplant said a total of 473,000 Israelis have registered as potential donors through the ADI organization, with 65,800 joining in 2008. For more information, go to http://www.health.gov.il/transplant/card_eng.htm or call 1-800-609-610. The growth in card holders, said Israel Transplant, was due to an Internet campaign, signing events at Aroma cafés, a school campaign and the organization's presence at national and local events, universities and the Israel Defense Forces. HEARTS SAFE AT THE KOTEL Although implementation of a six-month-old law requiring the installation of automatic defibrillators in all public places has been delayed, the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem will soon have such a device to revive victims of cardiac arrest. Defibrillators, which deliver electric shocks to the heart and can be administered safely by a layman, have been donated by a couple from Monsey, New York. Shlomo Sterzer and his wife purchased the defibrillator, which will be brought to the holy site in a few weeks. A four-hour training session for Western Wall personnel will be held in cooperation with Keren Yosef, through which it is being donated, and the Western Wall Foundation. Although the law - initiated by Israel Beitenu MK Stas Meseznikov - passed the Knesset on July 21, actual installation has been delayed because the necessary regulations were not quickly released. The law was meant to go into effect 60 days after its passage. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry blamed the Health Ministry for the delay; last month, the Health Ministry spokeswoman conceded that the ministry had not processed the regulations in time. The devices, which cost several thousand dollars each, are required in many Western countries, and have saved many lives. Since Keren Yosef was founded in 1999 in Beit Shemesh, and its first automatic debrillator was donated, it has voluntarily installed 13 more. Now Keren Yosef is running a program called Partnership Save-a Life that covers half the cost of defibrillators for synagogues. JAILBIRDS DESERVE CLEAN AIR Prisoners who smoke should be separated from non-smoking prisoners, according to a lawsuit filed by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) against the Israel Prison Service in the High Court of Justice. The two organizations said they had received many complaints from non-smoking prisoners unwillingly exposed to smoke in their cells and communal facilities. Many countries, including Britain and numerous states in the US, accommodate smoking and non-smoking prisoners in different cells. Anat Litvin, director of PHR-Israel's prisoner department, said the Prison Service is harming the health of those for whom it is responsible. Even though a person is incarcerated, he should not be forced to inhale toxins, she said. ICA chairman Prof. Eliezer Robinson added that as prisons are public places, they are covered by laws barring smoking in public places. LOOK BOTH WAYS AND HANG UP Children lose their concentration when they cross streets while speaking on cellphones, according to University of Alabama researchers. This puts them at a higher risk for accidents. Psychologists used a virtual reality program and three screens to display an actual crosswalk in the city of Birmingham with simulated moving vehicles of different sizes. The study, published in the February issue of Pediatrics and reported by UPI, found that all the 77 children aged 10 and 11 who were studied - even those experienced with talking on cell phones or rated as highly attentive - were more likely to show risky behavior when they crossed the virtual street while talking on a cell phone. They were asked to cross the virtual street six times without a cellphone and six times while talking on it. The youngsters took 20 percent longer to begin crossing the street, and were 43% more likely to be hit or have a close call. In addition, the children looked both ways 20% less often and gave themselves 8% less time to cross safely when they were on the cell phone.