San Francisco – The University of California San Francisco Medical Center announced this week the suspension of its living donor program for kidney transplants after the death of a donor in November.

The donor had provided a kidney in October and died last month. It’s still unclear how the donor died. The hospital and regulatory officials are investigating the cause of death. On the other hand, the patient who received the kidney from the deceased donor is stable as the transplanted kidney is working properly.

The UCSF Medical Center announced the suspension of the “living donor program,” after a donor’s death. Credit: NPR

The decision of shutting the program down was taken after the recommendation of Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN), an organization that coordinates transplants between donors and recipients around the country. The program will remain suspended throughout the investigation process, according to Joel Newman, the organization’s spokesperson.

However, UCSF won’t stop performing kidney transplants altogether. It decided not to perform the donor portion of the transplant surgeries, but it will carry on kidney transplantation from living and deceased donors.

“The safety and well-being of our patients is our top priority, and every effort is being made to understand what happened. We are deeply saddened by this tragic event,” read a statement from UCSF officials confirming the program’s suspension.

UCSF performed approximately 350 transplantations each year of which around 150 involve living donors. The patients who receive a kidney from living donors have better chances of positive outcomes as compared to those who receive it from deceased donors.

While the situation is currently being investigated with the medical center refusing to comment on the matter, health experts have named several reasons for the possible deaths, which included surgical complications and preexisting medical conditions that might not have been detected before the surgery.

Even though the risk of death after a kidney transplant surgery is extremely rare, there is a possibility for complications of approximately .03%. In 2014, two deaths of kidney donors were reported in the U.S., and another two have been reported in 2015.

The shutdown of the program leaves patients with kidney failure hanging. For instance, Christine Buell, vice principal at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco, was preparing to give her organ to former student Kelvin Sanders, 20, who was diagnosed with an end-stage renal disease last year. Sanders was supposed to undergo transplantation surgery at UCSF on Friday, but the procedure has been delayed. He said neither he nor his donor are discouraged. He expects his surgery to be rescheduled after the holidays.

Physicians at California Pacific said they are willing to take over the donor’s side for several transplant surgeries that are scheduled before the end of the year.

Source: SF Gate