Chicago To Become Organ Transplant Hub?Top Stories

February 23, 2017 10:05
Chicago To Become Organ Transplant Hub?

A group of the Chicago area hospitals, doctors, and also the politicians have teamed up to work toward the goal of turning Chicago into the organ transplant hub of the nation.

The city of Chicago, the Illinois Secretary of State and the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network sponsored on Tuesday morning the first ever Chicago Organ Summit at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The summit was organized in response to the former President Barack Obama’s call for new actions to increase access to organ transplants and reduce wait times for a donation. The summit has brought together the transplant programs, Chicago area hospitals, and also the local elected officials to improve organ donations and transplants.

The good news is that the organ transplants are up by 50 percent in the recent years. Kevin Cmunt, President, CEO of Gift of Hope said there is room for improvement and hopes Chicago will become the transplant hub of the country by the year 2020.

“It is a really cool thing to do, and why wouldn’t you?” said Laurie Lee, whose father received the life-saving liver transplant six years ago.

Six months ago, Lee decided to pay it forward, and donated her own kidney as part of the transplant chain.

Lee said if there were more donors, there would not be an organ shortage.

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Chicago has some of the best hospitals equipped to carry out the transplants, but it takes teamwork to increase the number of transplant surgeries.

Kelvin Martin, also known as DJ Flash, waited 2 ½ years to find a match when he needed a new heart after suffering congestive heart failure in the year 2014. He has met his donor’s mother.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White also has proposed legislation allowing the youths aging 16 and 17 to register as organ donors when they get their driver’s license. Currently, someone must be 18 to register in the Illinois. Under White’s proposal, the parents and legal guardians would have the right to overturn their child’s decision about registering as a donor until the child is 18.

Gift of Hope CEO Kevin Cmunt said it is all about rewriting the end to a tragedy, and he believes that Chicago can do a better job to save more lives.

By the year 2020, Gift of Hope hopes to increase the organs recovered for transplant by 25 percent. The summit is designed as a call to action to reduce the wait time for the transplant patients.

Organizers of Tuesday’s summit said that the goal is to complete 2,000 organ transplants a year in Chicago.

Mrudula Duddempudi.

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