Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, MD, PhD, chief of the University of Arizona Division of Nephrology and a professor of medicine in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, was among participants in a White House Organ Summit conference that was held June 13 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Roy-Chaudhury was a virtual participant in the conference which was available via live web streaming as co-chair of the Kidney Health Initiative (KHI), a public-private partnership of the American Society of Nephrology and U.S. Food & Drug Administration. KHI’s mission is creating the environment and advancing development of products and therapies to improve kidney health and patient safety.
The focus of Monday’s event was to learn about key actions the Obama Administration is taking to help more Americans get off of the organ waiting list and into the operating room for a life-saving transplant. A big part of that was looking at the issue of kidney transplants, for which there are 100,000 people on waiting lists across the country and only 17,000 of whom are able to get one. These people make up the vast majority of those—120,000 in all—waiting for organ transplants in the United States
Each year, 6,000 people in the U.S. become living donors to facilitate life-saving kidney and liver transplants. In 2010, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a nationwide kidney paired donation program to increase the pool of living donors. And, in 2013, President Obama signed the Hope Act legalizing use of organs from HIV-positive donors for use in HIV-positive recipients — for which the first procedures for liver and kidney transplants were completed earlier this year.
Kidney transplants are way up this year — 76 percent for all kidney transplants and 250 percent for living donor kidney transplants from 2014 to 2015 and this year's year-to-date total already well over last year's total — as are most organ transplant procedures at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, the primary teaching hospital for the UA College of Medicine – Tucson as these graphs indicate. (Click image to enlarge.)
The White House summit included video, an email from former NBA champion Alonzo Mourning on how a kidney transplant changed his life, letters from two other organ transplant patients as well as a fact sheet, information on how to become a donor and a series of commitments to reduce the waiting list for organ transplants.
Those commitments, valued at almost $200 million in investments, include government agencies, dozens of companies, foundations, universities, hospitals and patient advocacy organization. Among them were:
- The U.S. Department of Defense announced more than $160 million in public-private investment in a new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute for R&D into next-generation techniques to repair and replace cells and tissues that could lead to organ replacement. This was augmented by DOD’s $7 million in small business awards to advance the science of organ and tissue preservation technology.
- The American Society of Nephrology committed the first $7 million toward design, launch and execution of a Kidney Disease XPRIZE, in partnership with the XPRIZE Foundation, for development of a wearable or implantable innovation that replaces kidney function and improves patient quality of life.
- National Kidney Foundation announced a collaboration with Novatis and Johns Hopkins University to launch a Live Donor Champion Program to encourage kidney and liver organ donations from living donors.
- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center announced a pilot to pioneer kidney paired donation chains started via a military families share program for hard-to-match patients awaiting kidney transplants
- More than 30 transplant centers announced a collaboration to share data and best practices for kidney transplants for hard-to-match patients that could help up to 1,000 patients a year access transplants
Dr. Roy-Chaudhury, whose research focuses on improving procedures, devices and quality-of-life conditions for hemodialysis patients awaiting organ transplants, noted that renal replacement services cost up to $87,000 per patient per year and total about $34 billion per year for those with end-stage kidney failure. Still, there are 22 deaths a day of those awaiting organ transplants. By far the best renal replacement therapy and least expensive, he said, is organ replacement. And transplant patients from living donors experience the best lifestyle and longevity benefits, he added.
Complimenting the White House for recognizing the urgency of transplant issues and hosting the Organ Summit, he noted that kidney disease is a critical issue for demographic groups in Arizona—which hosts two of the top three largest dialysis practices in the country—largely due to the higher incidence of diabetes among Hispanic, American Indian and African Americans which can lead to poor kidney function and failure.
“The reason for this meeting, which is so important, is that if we really want to make progress in organ transplantation or if you want to make progress in being able to provide the best sort of renal replacement therapy for all of our patients—be it organ transplantation or be it a bioengineered mechanism of dialysis that is better than what we currently offer—if we want to move toward that goal and if we want to do it in a patient-centric manner, we needed to get all the different stakeholders in the different fields together on the same platform. That’s exactly what this initiative did.”
This resulted in a large number of commitments by different groups tackling different aspects of organ transplantation.
“Some were fairly big and some were much smaller. But it doesn’t matter. There were many small ones that focus on getting a larger number of donors, for instance, and in trying to get people more excited about transplantation. That’s the sort of multidisciplinary approach that we need,” Dr. Roy-Chaudhury concluded.
Dr. Roy-Chaudhury was interviewed Tuesday, June 14, about the summit by KVOA Channel 4 (click to view story).
"Twitter chat on kidney heatlh tonight, May 24, with UA’s Dr. Roy-Chaudhury"
Release Date: 05/24/2016 - 2:45pm