BALTIMORE — More than 100,000 people nationwide are currently waiting for an organ transplant, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
“The need out surpasses the availability. Supply does not meet demand in this case,” Jennifer Verbesey, the transplant director of MedStar Health, said.
Most people in need of a transplant are waiting for a kidney, she said. After that, people are waiting for liver transplants.
In some cases, all a person is in need of only a portion of an organ, Verbesey said.
That’s because an organ has the ability to regenerate, she said.
“The biggest misconception is that it’s really hard, selective, or difficult but that’s not true,” Verbesey said. “We’ve made it so it’s a lot easier now we can do wage reimbursement, help people out, do it at donor convenience.”
It’s easy to help someone who needs a kidney “because the kidneys tend to work faster and last longer,” Verbesey said.
Plus, most donor surgeries are minimally invasive, Verbesey said.
“They get very small incisions—just big enough for us to get the kidney out most of the time donors go home the next day,” she said.
Most donors can return to performing normal activities within weeks, Verbesey said.
Scientists have been conducting research on the potential use of artificial or animal organs in humans, but that is not yet a mainstream option for transplant recipients.
“Until those things happen, living donors are really our best option,” she said.