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New Hope For Transplants

Although organ transplants have saved countless lives there have been two big draw backs. One the donated organ must match the patient and secondly the recipient has to be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives. However, a new technique pioneered by David Sachs and Benedict Cosimi at the Massachusetts General Hospital may change both these conditions. Four out of five patients given non-matching kidneys successfully adopted their new organ and have been living without immunosuppressant drugs for u to 4 ½ years. The technique used first partially destroys the recipients bone marrow and uses an antibody to lower the level of T-cells- the immune cells involved in organ rejections. They then transplant the kidney, along with bone marrow-derived cells from the donor, and kept the patient in a sterile environment for about two weeks. The donated cells and the patients own cells created a mixed bone marrow, which caused the immune system to accept both the patient’s cells and the donated organ. Work done on animals suggests that the effectiveness of this approach may last indefinitely. Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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