The Growing Need
Each year, millions of Americans experience organ failure. Causes range from genetic defects in children to organ-damaging injuries in all ages. Others experience organ failure as a result of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease or Hepatitis C.
Over the past 60 years, the field of transplantation has seen huge advances that allow people with failed organs to be transplanted with a healthy one. Although transplantation is a true medical miracle, the number of people suffering from organ-damaging diseases continues to grow. As Americans live longer, the age-related risks for organ failure also increase.
The need for healthy organs, successful transplants and organ transplantation research has never been higher. Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, and 22 people will die each day waiting for their second chance at a healthy life.
"Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, and 22 people will die each day waiting for their second chance at a healthy life."
Strides Toward Controlling the Immune System
When a recipient receives a transplant, their body naturally activates the immune system, which is the body’s normal defense against invaders and foreign objects like viruses, cancer cells and, unfortunately, transplanted organs.
Currently, doctors control the transplant recipient’s immune system through immunosuppressant and anti-rejection drug therapies. The ultimate goal would be to build immune tolerance, which would be a much more effective and safe therapy. Immune tolerance was discovered by Sir Peter Medawar, who received the Nobel Prize in 1960 for his findings. He detected that a body’s immune system could, over time, be “taught” to tolerate foreign cells and treat them like their own.
Immune tolerance would eliminate the need for the organ recipients to take anti-rejection drugs. These necessary medications carry risks for cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Unfortunately, immune tolerance is not a reality today. With investments in research, we could see advancement in drug therapies and even discover a cure for immune disease.
Why Support Organ Transplantation Research
Even with the incredible advances in transplantation, and a future bright with possibilities, the transplant community continues to see life-threatening complications in organ transplant recipients. Continued research is required to improve the lives of the thousands of recipients suffering with and threatened by organ failure. Clinical studies will improve organ transplantation outcomes, advance drug therapies and discover new ways to provide more healthy, functional organs to those who need them most.
One Transplant for Life
Support our efforts in research to give these recipients a fighting chance to live our their lives worry-free.