Need More DonorsTimonium reader Gladys Scesney recently...


September 08, 1995

Need More Donors

Timonium reader Gladys Scesney recently lamented the high cost of a liver transplant operation in a well-written letter (Aug. 28, "Liver for sale"). She was concerned as a result of an article that she had read that, unfortunately, presented information about transplant operations quite inappropriately.

A liver transplant operation is a very complicated procedure, often lasting 10 hours or more and usually costing in excess of $170,000. Ms. Scesney said she read that the liver recipient is charged $20,000 for the liver alone. That is not quite accurate. It is against federal law to buy or sell organs in the U.S. There is no ''price'' for a human liver.

A part of the ''costs'' involved in a liver transplant operation is the actual procurement of a liver. For someone to receive a liver, another person must die. And the federally designated non-profit organization -- the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland -- needs to act immediately to receive consent from the donor's next-of-kin to surgically remove the organs from the donor and to assure fast and safe delivery to the recipient's hospital.

The organ removal procedure involves complicated surgery. And, once again, this ''costs'' something. The transportation of the organ and the identification of the appropriate recipient ''costs'' something. Many times, the donor is far away from the transplant hospital. A recovery team of surgeons and coordinators must fly to the donor hospital. Time is of the essence. The team cannot wait for a commercial airliner. Charter services save time and add to the overall cost and the ultimate success of the transplant procedure.

If people bought and sold organs, the ''costs'' would be much higher and the results would probably be much poorer. Currently, 60 percent of people receiving a liver transplant can expect to live at least three years -- and that's just a statistical average. Many live much longer.

In most cases, insurance pays a lot of the ''costs.'' The insurance co-pay, which Ms. Scesney mentioned, may very well be worth it for three years or more of life to the recipient and his or her family.

If more livers and other transplantable organs were available, if .. more lifesaving transplant surgeries could be performed, then the ''costs'' of the procedure would go down. Right now, we desperately need people throughout Maryland and the country to become heroes for life and make the decision to donate their organs and tissues freely so others will have the chance to live. There is no monetary cost to the donor or to the donor's family.

Today, we have many Marylanders who are living proof that the procedure works and who are not impoverished as a result. In fact, their lives and those of their families and loved ones have been significantly enriched.

Joseph J. O'Donnell Jr.


The writer is director of public relations, planning and development for the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland.

Help in Need

You should have endorsed Rikki Spector for the Fifth District council election. I live in Wyndhurst, a small neighborhood tucked in between Roland Park and Homeland. We face a stream of zoning and traffic problems. Rikki Spector is always there to help us. We can always count on her.

John C. Murphy


Don't Like Either

I live outside the Baltimore area, but I would like to express my thoughts concerning the candidates running for mayor of Baltimore City. After observing many things that have happened, I feel that neither candidate -- Kurt Schmoke or Mary Pat Clarke -- are suited for the job. Neither has proven to be effective in their present positions.

The city streets are a disgrace, littered with trash. Two or three families live in one house that has about a 40-foot frontage and no one picks up the trash in front of their dwelling. The nice apartment buildings are destroyed by carelessness so they have to be torn down. All the nice homes in the city are let go beyond repair and are boarded up.

This shows me that city officials are not doing their jobs. They should have prodded city inspectors to inspect projects regularly and make the tenants responsible for the damage they cause. With proper care, a home can last many years. I personally have lived in my home more than 30 years, raising five children, and at this writing the house looks as good now as it did when it was first built.

My opinion of social workers is the same. They are not doing their jobs and there are extreme cases of child neglect and senior citizens living in an unhealthy environment. If paid personnel did their jobs, you wouldn't have half the problems existing now. Same applies to the public works department. They move when someone gets behind them, as a local TV

station did recently.

We do not need so many inspectors and agencies making a large payroll when the end results are not justified. What good is a City Council or mayor when there are so many areas of neglect that should be reported on in your paper.

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