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AHRQ Supports Study of Care for Living Organ Donors

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Press Release Date: July 5, 2001

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced it has awarded a 2-year grant aimed at improving the way organ transplant centers serve living organ donors.

While most organ donations are derived from persons who have died, certain organs or parts of organs can be transplanted from living donors. Living donation is the fastest-growing source of organs, especially kidneys, at a time when the need for organs far exceeds the available supply.

"As living donation becomes a more significant source of organs for transplantation, we need to be sure we're serving our living donors with the best possible information, support and follow-up care," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "We have well-designed systems of support for transplant recipients. We should do no less for those who are generous enough to become living donors."

Building on their previous research, Rebecca P. Winsett, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Tennessee in Memphis will evaluate existing organizational and operational structures at transplant centers with high volumes of living donation. They will also interview living donors to determine their experiences with existing operations, and they will design models for care and post-surgical support for those who elect to become living donors.

A total of 22,827 organs were transplanted in the United States in 2000, an increase of 5.4 percent over 1999. This total included 5,532 organs from living donors, which was an increase of 16.5 percent over 1999. There were 13,290 kidneys transplanted in 2000, and 5,227, or 40 percent, of these were from living donors.

The waiting list for organs in the U.S. is nearly 80,000, including almost 50,000 patients awaiting kidney transplants.

The grant announced today, totaling $100,000, adds to the body of research supported by AHRQ on organ donation. Earlier findings from AHRQ have evaluated reasons why families and individuals choose for or against organ donation, and interventions to help increase organ donation.

"This important research is aimed at helping transplant centers refine their structures and operations to best evaluate and care for living donors," said John Eisenberg, M.D., Director of AHRQ. "Our transplant system and recipients will benefit if we ensure the quality of care for living donors who are, after all, volunteering for major surgery."

For more information, please contact Farah Englert, (301) 427-1865 (


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