National Donate Life Month (NDLM) was established by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003. Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.
I declare that I will live as a healer. I am sensitive to the needs of those around me. I will lift the fallen, restore the broken and encourage the discouraged.
University of Kentucky doctors are finding results with a new strategy aimed at decreasing the state’s high hepatitis C rate.
Kentucky ranks high among hepatitis C rates nationwide, which is why doctors are looking at battling the disease before it affects patients.
“The prevalence is huge,” UK Emergency Department Dr. Daniel Moore said. “We have a cure, but trying to get the cure to the people that have the disease is a huge challenge.”
Dr. Moore and his team are trying to raise awareness about the challenge by testing everyone who comes into the emergency room for hepatitis C. The hospital started the trial in July, and the results are enough to convince Dr. Moore to keep testing.
“Overall, 11 percent of all the patients that come through our emergency department are positive for having been infected with hepatitis C,” he said.
The percentage was worse for patients in their 20s and 30s. 20 percent of non-baby boomers tested positive for having antibodies ready to fight hepatitis C. Moore said the prevalence of hepatitis C in young patients has spiked about 500 percent in the last five years.
If you have PBC, the idea that someday you might need a liver transplant isn’t easy to think about. I know I didn’t want to consider it, when I was diagnosed in 1992.
But I wish I’d been more prepared for the challenges that arose in 2005, when I learned that I needed a new liver. I hope that sharing my story, today, will help you if and when a transplant becomes necessary.
Some Kentucky surgeons worry that a new way of allocating livers to U.S transplant patients could be detrimental, or even deadly, to people in the bluegrass state.
“The fear in Kentucky and many southern states, and many states that have transplant centers that represent rural patients, is … we’re going to become organ farms for large cities,” said Dr. Malay Shah, surgical director of liver transplant for UK HealthCare in Lexington.
The board that handles the issue on a national level passed a new policy earlier this month that will give patients who live in distant locales, such as Chicago, access to livers donated in Kentucky. The policy affects the handling of livers from most deceased adult donors across the country.
A bill to expand organ donor registration in Kentucky has successfully made it through the state House of Representatives and now awaits Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature. It is expected to take effect next year.
The legislation, backed by Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life, was approved by the House on Tuesday after being passed by the Senate earlier this month.
Senate Bill 77 will make it possible to register for organ donation through the Kentucky Online Gateway, a single sign-on system for accessing various government programs. The public also can continue to use old methods, such as signing up when getting a driver’s license or by going online to donatelifeky.org.
We have a liver selection meeting every Wednesday to consider which patients will get transplants. Each patient is listed by name, age, weight, diagnosis and MELD score – a number, based entirely on lab values, that predicts how bad their liver is and correlates with how likely they are to die waiting for a transplant. A score of 15 is where we start to consider transplantation, and 40 means a 90 percent chance of dying within three months.
Scanning the list, I noticed with discomfort that the patients at the top, with a MELD of 35 or more, had mostly the same diagnoses: alcoholic liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a consequence of obesity leading to fatty liver; and an occasional hepatitis C, a virus that was once the most common indication for liver transplant but now is being cured. This was not surprising. These diagnoses make up greater than 60 percent of the national waitlist, and that number continues to grow.