Queen's closer to starting more organ transplant operations - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Queen's closer to starting more organ transplant operations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Right now there are 400 people in Hawaii waiting for an organ transplant, but none of them are for a heart simply because there isn't approval yet.

"The organization that monitors and regulates transplants, UNOS, they have certain minimum number per year transplant requirement. It may be a challenge for the state to meet that minimum number," said Dr. Whitney Limm, Queen's Medical Center Vice President Clinical Integration and Director of the Kidney Transplant Center.

Dr. Limm says that minimum number is about 12 heart transplants a year.  He says the most Hawaii has ever done in a year was five.  Queen's Medical Center could be granted a waiver but it's no guarantee. Since it is a lengthy process it won't happen too quickly.

"That's probably going to be at least 12 months from now," said Dr. Limm.

When the Hawaii Medical Center closed late last year, the state's only transplant center did too. Queen's Medical Center stepped in to fill the void. Since March Queen's has already performed four successful liver transplants.  The first kidney transplant could happen within a month. And approval to begin pancreas operations could come by the end of August.

"Heart transplant will be the last of the four major organs," said Dr. Limm.

It so happens transplant experts from 35 countries are in Honolulu this week for the International Kidney Conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

"People from around the world are actually coming to Hawaii to help our local professionals in terms of the cutting edge knowledge and technology," said Glen Hayashida, National Kidney Foundation CEO.

"It's very important for people who have kidney disease in Hawaii to have access to kidney transportation," said Ash Sehgal, Case Western Reserve University, who is participating in the conference.

Given there are 2,900 people on dialysis in Hawaii and 377 waiting for a new kidney, starting transplant surgery again can't come soon enough.

"We were actually on pins and needles quite honestly," said Hayashida. "People in Hawaii can be assured that if they're on the list there is a fighting chance for them to receive an organ."

As for the heart patients will have to wait for Hawaii to get approval one beat at a time.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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