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Organ Transplants: A Brief History

Organ Transplants: A Brief History


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Early History
Ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese myths feature fanciful accounts of transplants performed by gods and healers, often involving cadavers or animals. While these tales are considered apocryphal, by 800 B.C. Indian doctors had likely begun grafting skin—technically the largest organ—from one part of the body to another to repair wounds and burns.

16th Century
Italian surgeon Gasparo Tagliacozzi, sometimes known as the father of plastic surgery, reconstructed noses and ears using skin from patients’ arms. He found that skin from a different donor usually caused the procedure to fail, observing the immune response that his successors would come to recognize as transplant rejection.

Early 1900s
European doctors attempted to save patients dying of renal failure by transplanting kidneys from various animals, including monkeys, pigs and goats. None of the recipients lived for more than a few days.

1905
Eduard Zirm, an Austrian ophthalmologist, performed the world’s first corneal transplant, restoring the sight of a man who had been blinded in an accident.

1912
Transplant pioneer Alexis Carrell received the Nobel Prize for his work in the field. The French surgeon had developed methods for connecting blood vessels and conducted successful kidney transplants on dogs. He later worked with aviator Charles Lindbergh to invent a device for keeping organs viable outside the body, a precursor to the artificial heart.

1936
Ukrainian doctor Yurii Voronoy transplanted the first human kidney, using an organ from a deceased donor. The recipient died shortly thereafter as a result of rejection.

1954
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a team of doctors at Boston’s Peter Bent Brigham Hospital carried out a series of human kidney grafts, some of which functioned for days or even months. In 1954 the surgeons transplanted a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick into his twin brother Richard; since donor and recipient were genetically identical, the procedure succeeded.

1960
British immunologist Peter Medawar, who had studied immunosuppression’s role in transplant failures, received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of acquired immune tolerance. Soon after, anti-rejection drugs enabled patients to receive organs from non-identical donors.

1960s
The first successful lung, pancreas and liver transplants took place. In 1967, the world marveled when South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard replaced the diseased heart of dentist Louis Washkansky with that of a young accident victim. Although immunosuppressive drugs prevented rejection, Washkansky died of pneumonia 18 days later.

1984
As transplants became less risky and more prevalent, the U.S. Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act to monitor ethical issues and address the country’s organ shortage. The law established a centralized registry for organ matching and placement while outlawing the sale of human organs. More than 100,000 people are currently on the national waiting list.

2005
Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital pioneered the “domino chain” method of matching donors and recipients. Willing donors who are genetically incompatible with their chosen recipients are matched with strangers; in return, their loved ones receive organs from other donors in the pool.

2010
Spanish doctors conducted the world’s first full face transplant on a man injured in a shooting accident. A number of partial face transplants had already taken place around the world.


Organ Transplantation

Publisher Summary

This chapter discusses the factors and management measure associated with organ transplantation . Approximately 300,000 solid organ transplants are performed in the United States alone since 1988. The risk factors for bone loss before transplantation mainly effects kidney, liver, heart, lung, and pancreas. The risk factors for bone loss after transplantation: glucocorticoids, and cyclosporines and tacrolimus animal studies. The natural history of bone loss and fracture is taken account in this chapter. History and physical examination with particular attention to risk factors for osteoporosis of the patient are evaluated before transplant. The pretransplant osteoporosis is done with appropriate medication, treat hypogonadism with estrogen, and thoracic and lumbar spine radiographs to check for prevalent fractures. There are few preventive measures to be taken by the patient— such as rapid resumption of weight-bearing exercise, rapid reduction of glucocorticoid dose, and encouragement of alternative methods of handling rejection that do not involve high dose glucocorticoids.


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Notes

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PIONEERS OF ORGAN GRAFTING

Half a century before proponents of skin homografts finally conceded their futility, surgeons using the more complex model of kidney transplantation recognized that homograft failure was inevitable. Alexis Carrel is commonly credited with originating both vascular suturing and its use in organ transplantation (Fig. 1). Although the award of the 1912 Nobel Prize for his development of these techniques was well deserved, he was actually not the first in either endeavor. Mathieu Jaboulay, the Chief of Surgery in Lyon, where Carrel trained, and the German surgeon Julius Dörfler introduced the full-thickness blood vessel suturing technique (Dörfler 1895 Jaboulay and Brain 1896). Carrel only adopted this method a decade later on the advice of Charles Guthrie after he initially advocated partial thickness suturing.

Alexis Carrel, whose pioneering work on blood vessel suturing and organ transplantation was recognized by the 1912 Nobel Prize. (Photograph ca. 1907 from the collection of the American Surgical Association.)

Technically successful kidney transplants were accomplished first not by Carrel but by Emerich Ullmann, who in 1902 performed a dog autotransplant and a dog-to-goat xenograft (Ullmann 1914). In 1906, the first two renal transplants in humans were performed by Jaboulay using a pig donor for one and a goat donor for the other (Jaboulay 1906). Ernst Unger, after first performing more than 100 kidney transplants in animals, performed the third and fourth human transplants in 1909 using monkey donors (Unger 1910). None of these early human kidney xenografts functioned for more than a few days, and all of the patients soon died.

In 1904, Carrel left France after failing in several examinations to qualify for a faculty position there. After a brief sojourn in Montreal, he moved to Chicago, where he partnered with the physiologist Charles Guthrie. They collaborated for barely 12 months, but during this time, they successfully transplanted the kidney, thyroid, ovary, heart, lung, and small bowel, averaging a publication on this work every 14 days (Malanin 1979). Carrel’s success with organ grafts was not dependent on a new method of suturing but on his use of fine needles and suture material, his exceptional technical skill, and his obsession with strict asepsis.

Carrel’s relationship with Guthrie soon cooled because Guthrie objected to Carrel’s seven single-author papers about their joint work and to Carrel’s habit of advancing his fame by reports in the newspapers. After Carrel left Chicago in 1906 for the Rockefeller Institute in New York, Guthrie published in Science a criticism of Carrel and the contention that he, rather than Carrel, deserved most of the credit for their joint accomplishments. He wrote: “It is a singular fact that up until the time Carrel and I engaged in the work together, his experiments did not yield good results, and that our results almost from the beginning of our work together were excellent!” (Guthrie 1909). This was only one of several instances in which the Nobel Prize Committee saw it differently than some of the candidates, and Guthrie was not given a share of the Nobel Prize.

Carrel’s extensive experience with organ transplants in animals left no doubt that, although autografts could be consistently successful, homografts never were. In view of the stubborn ongoing claims of successful skin homografts, this was one of Carrel’s most important findings, in itself a landmark. Carrel did not know why homografts failed, but he began to explore methods to avoid this such as matching of donor and recipient. Under the influence of his colleague James B. Murphy, he irradiated recipients in unpublished and now forgotten experiments, finding that this improved results (Flexner 1914).

World War I interrupted the productive transplantation research at the Rockefeller Institute by Carrel, Murphy, and their colleagues. Carrel, after spending the war in France treating wounded soldiers, returned to the Rockefeller Institute but not to research in transplantation. Instead, he formed an unlikely partnership with the aviator Charles Lindbergh, who approached him to discuss the possibility of a heart operation on a relative. Carrel responded that open heart surgery would require a pump oxygenator. Lindbergh offered to build such a device, and Carrel provided laboratory space for the project (Lindbergh 1978). Lindbergh’s pump was not used for heart surgery but for perfusion of organs and tissues. It allowed preservation of organs for as long as 3 weeks (Anonymous 1931). The publicity-seeking Carrel made sure that the pump was prominently exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Carrel was the originator of tissue culture, another technique that subsequently played an important role in transplantation. He incubated small fragments of embryonic chicken heart in dilute plasma. Carrel claimed that by 1919, this “immortal” tissue had been cultured for 1939 passages and was still normal and pulsating. But it was subsequently determined that embryonic cells with a normal diploid set of chromosomes cannot be maintained in culture for more than 50 doublings unless they undergo malignant transformation. Carrel’s laboratory technician eventually admitted the fraud, saying that because Dr. Carrel would be upset if the strain was lost, she added new embryo cells when they were needed (Witkowski 1980).

Despite the continued claims of success for skin homografts, the well-documented failure of experimental organ homografts by Carrel discouraged further research in this field, which during the 1920s and 1930s was continued by only a few. Frank Mann at the Mayo Clinic conducted extensive studies of canine renal and heart homografts but failed to extend Carrel’s earlier findings or explore Carrel’s suggestions for preventing rejection (Mann 1932).


Organ Transplants: A Brief History - HISTORY

Mission Statement

The Nicklas Foundation is dedicated to promoting organ donor awareness and providing fully furnished rent-free housing for transplant patients who live too far from a transplant center.

The Nicklas Foundation History

In October 1993, Rodney DeBaun from Grand Prairie, Texas, received a lifesaving heart transplant at the age of 36 years and his donor was 22-year old Air Force Second Lieutenant David Nicklas.

Prior to the transplant, Rodney was a real estate developer and athlete in perfect health. He noticed his stamina had been dropping and thought he had the flu when he went to a doctor in June 1993. He was told his heart was severely and permanently damaged and he only had a short time to live without a transplant, so he went on the transplant list in August of that year.

David Nicklas was valedictorian of his 1989 Graford High School class. In June 1993, he graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant assigned to Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. In October 1993, David’s vehicle was stolen on a Friday, he got a motorcycle on Saturday, and was involved in a tragic accident on Sunday resulting in David being placed on life support.

About 6 weeks prior to David’s accident, David’s grandfather, W. H. “Lucky” Bramlett, had been introduced to Rodney in a brief meeting by a mutual friend, Ken Johnson. The night the family was asked to make the decision to consider donating David’s organs, Lucky was awoken from a deep sleep when he felt as if something physically jerked him up into a sitting position and the name “Rodney” flashed through his mind.

The family made the ultimate decision to donate David’s organs, but only if his heart could go to Rodney. They were told it was unheard of for a donor family to specify a direct donation recipient, especially to someone not a family member, but the family held fast in their decision.

When Rodney’s doctor found out about the donation, he cautioned Rodney to not get too excited as the heart would more than likely not be a match. Surprisingly, David’s heart turned out to be a 100% match and Rodney received his gift of life from David on October 20, 1993 and was released just 9 days after his transplant!

After meeting his donor’s family over Thanksgiving 1994, in 1995, Rodney and his wife, Isibelle, created the David Nicklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation in memory of David. At that time, the two families basically became one. Since 1996, David’s sister, Rebecca Nicklas-Kelley, began working with the foundation, making it unique to be operated by both recipient and donor families.

As a pilot who owns planes, Rodney originally began providing no cost air transport to transplant patients living too far from a transplant center. The Foundation also participated in air shows across the nation to promote organ donor awareness.

Beginning in 2004, The Foundation began offering rent-free housing to transplant patients who live too far from a transplant center. To date, we have helped nearly 100 families from 15 states, with transplant patients as young as 4 months old and up to 72 years of age. The organ transplants have included hearts, kidneys, lungs, double lungs, and livers. When possible, we also proudly provide no cost air transport to wounded military veterans.


People's History of the NHS

The funniest joke at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2016, as chosen by a panel of critics for Dave TV channel, was, ‘My dad suggested I register for a donor card, he’s a man after my own heart’ (told by Masai Graham). The first week of September is Organ Donation Week, an annual drive organised by NHS Blood and Transplant to promote the lifesaving potential of organ donation. Whilst the jokes of the Fringe and the NHS’s campaigns may not initially appear to have much in common, cultural representations –in comedy, novels, newspapers, and television – have played an important role in reflecting and shaping public debates around the medical, moral, legal and personal implications of organ donation.

Organ donation has a long history. Whilst there are accounts of skin transplantation dating back as early as the second century, transplants of other organs were not documented until the early twentieth century, alongside improvements in blood transfusions. Through time, and particularly from the 1940s, surgeons developed their understanding of why certain organs were rejected, and developed immunosuppressive drugs to prevent this. The NHS’s website writes that the organisation has been ‘at the forefront’ of transplant technology since its own inception in 1948, with the first NHS kidney transplant in 1960, and the first NHS heart and liver transplants in 1968. The NHS established its first organ donor card, initially just for kidneys, in 1971, and the national organ donor database was created in 1994. In 2016, we continue to see medical innovation in transplant surgery (for example as surgeons transplant organs between donors and recipients who are HIV-positive). We also see controversial cases of medical waste, with donor organs in America sometimes thrown away due to an inefficient donor matching system, or weekend under-staffing.

As organ donation became more common from the 1980s and 1990s, newspapers and factual television programmes paid attention. In 1985, the BBC consumer programme That’s Life!, presented by Esther Rantzen, appealed for a donor liver for the sick child Benjamin Hardwick. A liver was donated, and Ben became the youngest liver transplant patient. The programme also raised £150,000 from viewers and, contemporary newspapers speculated, contributed to a cultural shift empowering parents and clinicians to discuss paediatric organ transplantation. Echoing this line of thought, in 2014 Matthew Whittaker, who received a liver transplant in 1984 aged 10, told the Daily Mail that ‘I’m 41, but my liver is just turning 30. . . and it’s all thanks to Esther’.

The close relationship between media and medicine was criticised at the time in the Guardian, arguing that journalists had become ‘recruitment officials for organ donors’, and should return to their role as ‘devil’s advocate[s]’, analysing medical research findings and government health policy. Some newspaper coverage did operate in this critical manner, however, for example investigative journalism exposing an organ trade between Britain and less affluent nations in the 1980s and 1990s. In one distributing example of this practice, in 1994 The Sunday Times reported that people from Bombay and Madras were selling their organs to British patients for as little as £200, making the ‘middlemen’ organising these deals up to £12,000 per operation.

Films, novels, and television programmes have also invited the public to think about the ethical, legal and personal implications of organ donation. The film Return to Me (2000) raises issues about identity, emotion, and transplantation, as a man falls in love with a woman who received the heart of his deceased wife. Similar debates were raised by media coverage around Jeni Stephien in August 2016, who was walked down the aisle by a man who had had her father’s heart transplanted years before, and told assembled media that, ‘It was just like having my dad here, and better’. Debates about informed consent, and emotional repercussions for donors’ relatives, were also played out in the Mills & Boon novel On Wings of Love (2013), where a transplant nurse falls in love with a grieving widower. In the American film John Q (2002), a desperate man with inadequate health insurance holds clinicians hostage in a hospital, forcing them to give his son a heart transplant. This raises questions about the responsibilities of the state in relation to organ transplantation – also discussed in Britain in relation to immuno-suppressive drugs, which recipients of organ transplants have had to pay for themselves.

These fictional representations likely invited reflection amongst viewers. Television producers have also explicitly sought to engender such debate. In 2005, a Casualty/Holby City crossover special asked viewers to vote to determine the outcome of an organ donation-related storyline. 98,800 viewers called, with 65 per cent voting that a heart donation should be received by Lucy, a young cystic fibrosis patient, over Tony, an older widower. Demonstrating an entwinement between fact and fiction, the programme also featured an informative section presented by Robert Winston explaining the guidelines governing organ donation.

Cultural representations of transplants can encourage us to think through our positions in relation to organ donation, and to discuss these with friends and family. A study of 1993 also found that when transplants were featured in newspapers and on television, this made it easier for intensive care professionals to raise the subject of organ donation with grieving relatives. Cultural representations of transplants can also have a negative effect on discussion, however. In 2013 the NHS Blood and Transplant group criticised the portrayal of organ donation in an episode of Holby City as ‘inexcusable and reckless’, for representing clinicians treating grieving relatives with ‘callous disregard’. Demonstrating the real effect of television, the Blood and Transplant group also stated they had been contacted by many people who wanted to be removed from the Organ Donor Register, as a direct result of this programme.

Newspaper articles, television programmes, even junky American films and Mills & Boon books, have all shaped how and when we think and speak about organ donation, by framing and highlighting issues such as consent, emotion, and bodily autonomy in particular ways.


A Brief History of Cross-Species Organ Transplantation

Cross-species transplantation (xenotransplantation) offers the prospect of an unlimited supply of organs and cells for clinical transplantation, thus resolving the critical shortage of human tissues that currently prohibits a majority of patients on the waiting list from receiving transplants. Between the 17th and 20th centuries, blood was transfused from various animal species into patients with a variety of pathological conditions. Skin grafts were carried out in the 19th century from a variety of animals, with frogs being the most popular. In the 1920s, Voronoff advocated the transplantation of slices of chimpanzee testis into aged men whose “zest for life” was deteriorating, believing that the hormones produced by the testis would rejuvenate his patients. Following the pioneering surgical work of Carrel, who developed the technique of blood vessel anastomosis, numerous attempts at nonhuman primate organ transplantation in patients were carried out in the 20th century. In 1963–1964, when human organs were not available and chronic dialysis was not yet in use, Reemtsma transplanted chimpanzee kidneys into 13 patients, one of whom returned to work for almost 9 months before suddenly dying from what was believed to be an electrolyte disturbance. The first heart transplant in a human ever performed was by Hardy in 1964, using a chimpanzee heart, but the patient died within 2 hours. Starzl carried out the first chimpanzee-to-human liver transplantation in 1966 in 1992, he obtained patient survival for 70 days following a baboon liver transplant. With the advent of genetic engineering and cloning technologies, pigs are currently available with a number of different manipulations that protect their tissues from the human immune response, resulting in increasing pig graft survival in nonhuman primate models. Genetically modified pigs offer hope of a limitless supply of organs and cells for those in need of a transplant.


Selected Statutory and Regulatory History of Organ Transplantation

*2008—Public Law 110-413, Stephanie Tubbs Jones Gift of Life Medal Act of 2008October 14, 2008—Establishes authority for the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a National Medal honoring organ donors. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*2007—Public Law 110-144, Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation Act, December 21, 2007—Clarified that paired donation, as defined in the act, is not considered valuable consideration for purposes of Section 301 of NOTA requires annual report that details the progress towards understanding the long-term health impacts of living donation. [GPO: Text, PDF]

2006—Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, 2006 — A model statute intended for adoption in every jurisdiction. This model law legally bars others from revoking the consent of a donor after death who legally registered as a donor during his or her lifetime (without an indication that the consent was no longer valid).

*2004—Public Law 108-216, Organ Donation and Recovery Improvement Act, April 5, 2004—Expanded authorities of NOTA to include the authority to establish a grant program to provide reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses for living organ donors and expanded other grant authorities. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*2000—Public Law 106-310, Children’s Health Act, approved October 17, 2000—Title XXI, Amended NOTA to require the OPTN to consider special issues concerning pediatric patients and organ allocation. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*1999—Public Law 106-56, Organ Donor Leave Act passed by Congress to allow federal employees to receive paid leave and serve as living organ or marrow donors. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*1999—Public Law 106-170, Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act, December 17, 1999, Section 413—Delayed the effective date of the OPTN final rule. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*1998—Public Law 106-113, 1999 Consolidated Appropriations Act, November 29, 1999—Delayed the effective date of the OPTN final rule and made related amendments. [GPO: Text, PDF]

*1998—Final Rule (63 Fed. Reg. 16296) Governing the operation of the OPTN was issued and published in the Federal Register.http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/1998/04/02/98-8191/organ-procurement-and-transplantation-network

1996—Federal Register Notice issued on November 13, 1996 (61 Fed. Reg. 58158)—Extended comment period for the OPTN Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and announced a public hearing on issues raised by the proposed regulation.

1994—Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (59 Fed. Reg. 46482), September 8, 1994—Issued and published in the Federal Register proposing a regulation governing the operation of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/1994/09/08/94-21993-2/organ-procurement-and-transplantation-network-proposed-rule

*1990—Public Law 101-616, The Transplant Amendments of 1990, November 16, 1990—Provided for the establishment and maintenance of a National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. This law made other amendments to existing procurement and transplantation authorities.

*1990—Public 101-274, Amendment to the Organ Transplant Amendments Act of 1988, April 23, 1990—Deferred a certification requirement with respect to organ procurement organizations.

*1989—Federal Register Notice published by the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), Department of Health and Human Services on December 18, 1989 (54 FR 51802) —Clarified that no OPTN policies or issuances are “rules or requirements” of the OPTN for purposes of Section 1138 of the Social Security Act unless they have been formally approved by the Secretary.

*1988—Public Law 100-607, The Health Omnibus Programs Extension of 1988, November 4, 1988—Included the Organ Transplant Amendments of 1988, which made amendments to existing organ procurement and transplantation authorities.

1987—Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, 1987 Version, A model statute, intended for adoption in every jurisdiction. A revision to the original 1968 UAGA to deem a person's legal consent to donate before death irrevocable (without an indication that the consent was no longer valid).

*1987—Public Law 100-203, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, December 22, 1987—Provided for the designation of pediatric hospitals that perform pediatric heart transplants as meeting certification requirements as heart transplant facilities in specified circumstances.

*1987—Public Law 100-119, Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control and Reaffirmation Act of 1987, September 29, 1987—Delayed the effective date of § 1138(a) of the Social Security Act with respect to hospitals.

*1986—Public Law 99-509, The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, October 21, 1986—Section 1138 of the Social Security Act - Included new requirements pertaining to organ procurement and transplantation and participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

*1985—Public Law 99-272, The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985, April 7, 1986—Required that states have written standards with regard to coverage of organ transplants in order to qualify for federal payments under Title XIX of the Social Security Act.

1984—Public Law 98-507, The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), October 19, 1984—Provided for the establishment of the Task Force on Organ Transplantation, authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make grants for organ procurement organizations, created the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) to be run by contract by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, created the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, and created an administrative unit within the Department of Health and Human Services to administer these activities. Section 301 of NOTA included the criminal prohibition against the exchange of organs for transplantation for valuable consideration.

1980—The Uniform Determination of Death Act - A model statute, intended for adoption in every jurisdiction, that replaced the Uniform Brain Death Act (which did not address traditional criteria for determining death). The Act states that an individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory or respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

1978—The Uniform Brain Death Act—A model statute, intended for adoption in every jurisdiction. This model law established that the irreversible cessation of all functioning of the brain, including the brain stem, was death.

*1978—Public Law 95-292, June 13, 1978—Amended the Social Security Act (End-Stage Renal Disease Program—Improvements) to provide for coverage under Medicare for end stage renal disease patients to receive kidney transplantation services.

1973—Public Law 92-603, October 30, 1972—Amended the Social Security Act to extend Medicare coverage to certain individuals with chronic renal disease. Such individuals were deemed to be disabled for the purposes of coverage under Parts A and B of Medicare.

1968—The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), A model statute, intended for adoption in every jurisdiction. This law provided the legal foundation upon which human organs and tissues can be donated for transplantation by execution of a document of gift. Deemed a person's legal consent to donate before death sufficient under the law (without an indication that the consent was no longer valid).


About Organ Transplant Recipients of SW Florida

On August 6, 1992, the doctors at Tampa General Hospital gave the Gift of Life, a new heart, to one Newman Fletcher. As he made a good recovery, Mac, as he is universally known, started to act upon some suggestions he heard during recovery. In August, 1992, Mac and Barbara’s (Mac’s Caregiver) home became the meeting site for five other recipients and their caregivers. Thus was born “The SW Florida Organ Recipients”, the predecessor of our current Group.

The Recipients would hold meetings whenever they were available and in whatever meeting room was available. Early meetings were conducted in the Fletcher kitchen and then moved to S.W. Regional Medical Center. Venues changed frequently, even to rooms at Bon Secours Hospital in Charlotte County.

After three years as President, Mac retired to be succeeded by Steve Sferruza, an original member of the group. Steve was followed by Andy Kaufmann, and then, Amy Saul Gowan assumed the presidency. Amy secured a meeting room at the Shell Factory in N. Fort Myers as a central meeting place and the group’s numbers improved. Unfortunately, Amy’s health began to deteriorate and finally she relinquished her gavel to George Kearns who complete her term and assumed another term. While Amy was still in office she reached an agreement with S.W. Regional Hospital to hold the Group’s meetings in their facility. They offered a meeting room and lunch which was gratefully accepted. After moving to the Hospital, the Group continued to grow and now numbers over one hundred members. The members represent all forms of organ transplants such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, cornea, etc., as well as caregivers, those awaiting transplants, and donor families.

The original Group, founded and nurtured by Mac Fletcher, was incorporated as a non-profit Florida corporation while George held office. Donna Williamson was then elected President and presided over the creation of the web site and the Fletcher Fund, a philanthropic fund for people living in Southwest Florida, established in honor of Mac to assist recipients and those awaiting transplantation.


Watch the video: Organ Donation and Transplantation: How Does it Work? (July 2022).


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