Recycling: not just for paper

Use of second-hand kidneys on the rise


courtesy of Creative Commons

Jenna Bradford, Feature editor

Thirteen people die each day waiting for a kidney. Even if a kidney miraculously makes its way to a gracious recipient, there is no guarantee the kidney will take.

Every 14 minutes someone new is added to the waitlist for a kidney ( Those waiting for an organ range anywhere from small children to the elderly.  In the past 60 years, there has been less than 50 transplants (

When people need an organ, they are placed on a waiting list, often waiting years before one becomes available. The wait for a kidney could be anywhere from five to ten years depending on the state ( Unfortunately, many people are not granted enough time to receive the organ.

The standard protocol is to wait for a possible donor to pass in order to receive their kidney. There are very few healthy people donating their organs.

Patients who are in need of kidneys use dialysis machines to function as a kidney until they can receive one. These machines are large and can be a pain to carry from place to place. People often miss out on living life because they cannot travel.

Vertis Boyce, a 70 year old woman, was on the waiting list when she got a call for a kidney. Vertis was given a second-hand kidney, a kidney that was donated to an original recipient and then given to a second person in need.

Director of the UCLA Kidney Exchange Program Dr. Jeffrey Veale,  has successfully transplanted three second-hand kidneys. Usually, kidneys are not re-transplanted after the death of the initial recipient. Dr. Veale said approximately 25 percent of people with a transplant die with a viable kidney ( This makes the wait much longer.

If more organs were donated a second time, the list would shrink, so people would be less likely to pass while waiting for another kidney.

One requirement for the procedure is that the second-hand kidney can only be used in the initial recipient’s body for less than 10 years.

An issue with a second-hand kidney is the kidney could have been exposed to various drugs such as immunosuppressants.

Dr. Veale also shared his ideas about second-hand livers with a liver surgeon who said he’d consider the operation.

This procedure may help many people to receive a kidney and live longer lives ( and

If we can recycle these organs that have the ability to save lives, many more people can be able to see their children grow up. They can see their children lose their first tooth, have their first and last prom, see them get married. These organs are things people don’t think much of. Many people choose not to be organ donors for one reason or another which leaves people on a waitlist for years. Reusing kidneys gives people a chance at life.