NEWARK, NJ -- "Through organ donation, we are able to give our most critically-ill patients a second chance at life," says Sadanand Palekar, MD, clinical director of Renal Transplantation at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The Saint Barnabas Health Care System Renal and Pancreas Transplantation Centers at Newark Beth Israel and Saint Barnabas Medical Center is one of the largest kidney transplant programs in the tri-state area. The team performs some 250 kidney transplants each year. For patients with end-stage heart disease, The Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Program at Newark Beth Israel, one of the country's leading heart transplant centers, offers patients the most advanced medical care before, during and after heart transplantation.
These lifesaving transplant procedures are made possible through living and deceased donors. While organ and tissue transplants save thousands of lives each year, many lives are also lost each year because there are not enough donors. In New Jersey, approximately 3,000 people are waiting for transplants. According to the New Jersey Organ and Tissue Sharing Network (NJ Sharing Network), African Americans and Hispanics total over 31 percent of New Jersey's population, yet they make up close to 50 percent of the people in the state awaiting a lifesaving transplant. The majority of those listed are in need of a kidney transplant.
In 2001, only 17 percent of African-American families in New Jersey who were approached by organ and tissue recovery specialists consented to donation. The number rose to 35 percent in 2002. By 2005, 47 percent of African-American families who were asked said "yes" to donation. The NJ Sharing Network (NJSN) credits this growth in part to the efforts of its African-American Planning Committee which is comprised of transplant recipients, donor families, community advocates and supportive organizations like The Links Inc. Formed in 2001, the committee helps dispel myths and misconceptions about organ and tissue donation.
"What we have learned through advances in organ transplantation is that genetic similarity is key in matching donor organs to potential recipients," says Dr. Palekar. "We know that matches are more likely and more timely when donors and potential recipients are members of the same race." He adds that, unfortunately we've found that minority patients may have to wait longer for matched kidneys and may be sicker at the time of transplant or die waiting. "Kidney transplants can dramatically improve the lives of patients enabling them to live without dialysis treatment," concludes Dr. Palekar.
To learn more about heart, renal and pancreas transplantation at NBIMC, call
1 800-THE BETH or visit www.barnabashealth.org You can also learn more about organ donation through the New Jersey Sharing Network website at www.sharenj.org.
Date: February 6, 2006
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