Policy Statements - QUALITY OF ORGANS FOR TRANSPLANTATION

 

Passed by the NKF 14th May 2011

The National Kidney Federation (NKF) believes that kidney transplantation has the capacity to extend life and improve the quality of life for patients. It also recognises that in some cases life may still be extended even though the organ being transplanted is diseased or has other health issues.

The Federation considers that transplant surgeons have an absolute duty to investigate the health of the potential donor, and the kidney organ, in as much detail as practicable in the time available whilst the organ remains viable, and to fully inform the proposed recipient of any health issues revealed, before transplantation takes place.

A potential recipient should inform the transplant surgeon of any circumstances whereby they would not wish the transplant operation to proceed once the health of the donor, or quality of the organ can be determined.


Notes

The following factors are germane:-

  • Organs used for Transplant are never “new and perfect”, they have already had an existence inside the donor. They have been subjected to normal life factors affecting their quality – “Blood pressure, cholesterol, infections, the effect of medicines, disease, life style abuses, drug abuse, drinking, smoking, life style benefits – exercise, healthy eating, age etc.
  • There is a small time window that enables deceased donor’s organs to be used for Transplant. The donor cannot have suffered a slow drawn out death; neither can the death have been so sudden that transplantation whilst the organ is still viable is impossible to organise. Any decision to use a donor’s organ for Transplantation has to be made without any undue delay – speed is essential.
  • Potential donors may die without being aware of any existing health problem they may have.
  • The potential donor’s doctors and carers may equally be unaware of any underlying health issue
  • Potential recipients for kidney Transplant may have run out of life saving options – they may be facing the decision of Transplant or death.
  • Even a Transplanted organ carrying disease, may have the capacity to extend life for the recipient – either on its own or with treatment
  • A recipient may “prefer” to risk a deceased donor organ, over a living donor organ removed from a “loved one”
  • A recipient has the right to be fully informed about any known “quality of organ” issues before agreeing to the transplant.
  • A potential recipient should inform the Transplant surgeon of any circumstances whereby they would not wish the transplant operation to proceed once the quality of the organ can be determined.
  • Transplant surgeons have a duty to investigate the health of the donor in as much detail as is practicable, in the time available
  • Transplant surgeons and laboratory technicians have a duty to examine and test the organ as thoroughly as is practicable in the time available before transplantation.