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UCSF Kidney Transplant Program Suspended After Donor Dies

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It is being described as a “nightmare scenario” for the living donor program run by University of California San Francisco Medical Center. A man passed away last month after providing a kidney to a patient at the hospital in October, and now officials at the institution are investigating his cause of death. All kidney transplants have been voluntarily suspended by the medical center while the investigation takes place.

The recipient of the deceased man’s kidney is reportedly healthy, though UCSF officials would not identify the donor or the recipient.

Traditionally, recipients of kidney transplants obtain their kidneys from dead donors, but statistically have better results when receiving the organ from a living donor. The risk of a death for a living kidney donor is at about 0.03 percent, or 3 for every 10,000 donations.

Although UCSF has suspended transplant surgeries in prospective living kidney donors, kidneys that have already been taken out will continue to be provided to recipients that need them. UCSF will also continue to perform transplants from deceased individuals.

Medical director Dr. Steven Katznelson said that hospital officials “worry about [the risk of death] every day”, adding that even “for a healthy person who goes under general anesthesia, there’s always a risk”.

The sentiment is shared by many other medical professionals who take unforeseen deaths like these to heart.

“The safety and well-being of our patients is our top priority, and every effort is being made to understand what happened. We are deeply saddened by this tragic event”, UCSF said in a statement.

The death marks the third U.S. kidney donor death in 2015. Last year, two deaths were reported. Hospital officials from UCSF boast, however, that their medical center has performed more life-saving transplants than any other facility in the country — on average 350 per year, and in excess of 10,000 since 1964.

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