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UMC official dismisses organ transplant report

By Audrey DeAnda
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 15, 1999

A UMC spokeswoman dismissed the importance of a report released Wednesday, stating that the UA rated higher than average in their heart transplant program and lower than average for their liver transplant program.

Connie Glasby, University Medical Center transplant director, said the report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., was misleading and did not necessarily represent the programs.

"I question the value of this information," Glasby said.

She added that the report is not a good indication of the efficiency of the transplant programs because the data was taken years ago.

"Let's look at the data now," Glasby said. "The data is three years old. How can we comment on data that's three years old?"

Glasby said the statistics were taken when UMC's liver transplant program was just beginning and taking in high risk cases resulting in more deaths.

The program began in 1992 and when the statistics were taken, the program was barely two years old, she added.

Glasby said UMC's heart transplant statistics were above national average because the program is more experienced.

"We have a long standing (heart transplant) program that began in 1979," Glasby said. "Our heart transplant program has turned more and more to devices to bridge people over."

The report compiled fatality statistics for all of the heart and liver transplant programs at the nation's hospitals.

It focused on three factors - likelihood of a patient dying while waiting for a donor, probability of surviving one year after going on a waiting list, and whether a patient will receive a transplant within a year of waiting.

The data for patients surviving one year on a waiting list was taken from April 1994 to December 1996, while the data taken on patients receiving a transplant or dying within a year of being on the list was taken from April 1994 to December 1997.

The study found that 89.4 percent of patients awaiting a heart transplant lived for at least one year after going on a donor waiting list. The national average is 75.8 percent.

While the UA's heart transplant program excelled in the report, the liver transplant program is below average.

The program's rate of survival after being on a waiting list for a year was 73.4 percent, while the national average was 79.6 percent.

The rating was similar for patients receiving a transplant within a year, with the UA ranking slightly higher in heart and lower in liver transplant.

Glasby said these statistics do not necessarily represent the effectiveness of the program because of the time the data was compiled and the nature of the report.

Glasby said these statistics depend on the abundance of donors.

"We do not have enough organ donors," Glasby said. "People need to tell their family members if they want to donate their organs."

But while less people than average receive transplants through the UA's transplant program, the report states less people have died within a year of being placed on the heart and liver transplant waiting lists.

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