Transplantation in 2012: Still dispelling myths
In 1986, my father, a radiologist, advised me not to go into transplantation; his 60’s vintage medical education taught him “that stuff never works.” By the time he passed away in the mid-90s, Dad knew better. How ironic that even now, a quarter century later, so much misinformation remains regarding what it is we do. The Dick Teresi article/book regarding “the ice-water test, beating heart cadavers” and “blurring the line between life and death” resurrected long-ago-disproven factoids and half-truths in a very public forum, forcing us all to defend the ethics and science underpinning donor care. Saturday, word that Dick Cheney (lauded in some circles and notorious in others) had received a heart transplant at age 71 brought out the usual squawking about unfair organ allocation and a rigged system. Yet, in 2011, 14% of heart recipients were over 65 years old, and he had spent a longer-than-average 2 years on a VAD and transplant waiting list. Was his claim for a transplantable heart less valid than the 332 others of similar age that received cardiac allografts last year?
Our profession enables us to participate in marvelous doings, things unimagined even a few years ago. It is as important as ever that we remain committed to the highest ideals, helping keep a curious public appropriately informed.
Robert S. Gaston