The Little Talked About Health Crisis

It is with a heavy heart that I am posting that my son Jeb’s, beloved Yolanda, succumbed at 4:38 a.m. EDT in Jacksonville, Florida at the Mayo Hospital to the ravages of end stage liver disease.  It is a very sad time for our small family.  The last few weeks have been extremely difficult knowing that if an organ match was not procured in time, she could possibly die.  In the last two weeks she suffered renal failure and had to go on dialysis, put on a feeding tube and intubated for breathing purposes.  Because her blood would not clot, she was experiencing bleeders within her body that were difficult to treat.  The staff made her comfortable and she did not suffer at the end but her heart merely gave out.

After saying all this it is ironic that this is National Organ Donation Month.  In addition President Barack Obama designated this month as National Donate Life Month, a call for organ and tissue donation.Today, more than 115,000 men, women, and children are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.  To help them get the care they need, millions of Americans choose to be organ and tissue donors but unfortunately the organ availability especially for livers does not meet the need for there are many more people needing livers than there are available. 

In the 1980s doctors at UCLA medical school were warned by their professors that within twenty years they would see an epidemic of patients with liver disease.  An insidious disease that is lurking and has stricken many people with devastating results. The disease caused from the Hepatitis virus in all its virulent strains whether it is A, B, or C and others evolves from different sources.  Once contracted from either another person, dirty needles from drug use or improperly monitored blood transfusions the disease progresses without any digression.  It will eventually evolve into Cirrhosis of the liver.   Tumors are usually the step next in the deadly progression of this illness although not always. If a patient is fortunate to have the tumor removed he or she can be placed on a transplant list. Even if a tumor does not develop the health of the liver is compromised and a transplant is inevitable provided the patient qualifies following extensive medical tests.  Once on the list the patient can be matched up with a donor.  The problem lies that there are not nearly enough donors to help these people 

Next posting will discuss UNOS United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government


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