Medicare okays Lankenau Hosp. kidney transplant program

    The federal certification and advances in medicine are boosting transplant volume

    Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood recently got approval from the federal government to perform kidney transplants on patients with Medicare. The certification should give the hospital a bump in transplant cases this year. Advances in medicine are also boosting transplant volume. [audio:100127kgkidney.mp3]

    Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood is now accepting Medicare insurance for kidney transplants. That makes the program the eleventh in the region to have approval from the federal government to take on Medicare patients.

    Lankenau’s kidney transplant program has been around for 17 years. The last two were the hospital’s busiest, with more than 30 cases each.

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    Field: Right now Philadelphia has seven kidney transplant programs, and there is probably room for another one.

    Robert Field is a professor at Drexel Law School. He says the region has too many heart transplant centers, but kidneys are a different story.

    Field: Unlike heart where the market is capped by the number of donors, for kidneys we keep finding ways to find more and more donors and therefore to potentially save more and more lives.

    Kidney donors no longer have to be perfect genetic matches. Medicine can make up for any differences. James Lim is Lankenau’s kidney transplant program director.

    Lim: Our transplant medications, because they are so good, make up for any lack of match between the donor and the recipient. So currently our one year graft survival rates are in excess of 90%.

    Living donors have also stepped up to help address the long list of recipients.

    Lim: It’s out hope that our volume will continue to increase. We’ve seen the number of evaluations – those patients that come in to be evaluated for a possible kidney transplant – grow that this is actually the biggest year.

    More than 100,000 people in the US are waiting for a kidney.

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