Honoring the gift: The transformative potential of transplant-declined human organs.
Albert C., Harris M., DiRito J., Shi A., Edwards C., Harkins L., Lysyy T., Kulkarni S., Mulligan DC., Hosgood SA., Watson CJE., Friend PJ., Nicholson ML., Haakinson D., Saeb-Parsy K., Tietjen GT.
For decades, transplantation has been a life-saving treatment for those fortunate enough to gain access. Nevertheless, many patients die waiting for an organ and countless more never make it onto the waitlist because of a shortage of donor organs. Concurrently, thousands of donated organs are declined for transplant each year because of concerns about poor outcomes post-transplant. The decline of any donated organ-even if medically justified-is tragic for both the donor family and potential recipients. In this Personal Viewpoint, we discuss the need for a new mindset in how we honor the gift of organ donation. We believe that the use of transplant-declined human organs in translational research has the potential to hasten breakthrough discoveries in a multitude of scientific and medical areas. More importantly, such breakthroughs will allow us to properly value every donated organ. We further discuss the many practical challenges that such research presents and offer some possible solutions based on experiences in our own research laboratories. Finally, we share our perspective on what we believe are the necessary next steps to ensure a future where every donated organ realizes its full potential to impact the lives of current and future patients.