When you think of medical advances, Iran is probably not one of the countries that comes to mind.
But the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the leaders in kidney transplant – in fact, there is no longer a waiting list for a kidney transplant there. How do they do it? They have a kidney matching system and they pay donors. Singapore plans to pay donors up to 50,000 Singapore Dollars (Almost $36,000 US dollars!)
If paying for a transplant organ seems a bit unethical, there are other ways to obtain one – legally, that is! At the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, you can grow your own organs. Need a new bladder? It will be ready for you in about six weeks! And since it is grown using your own cells as the base, rejection won’t be a problem.
And bladders are just the start – scientists are also working on ears, arteries, heart valves, fingers and toes. If we don’t watch out, our local hospital is going to start looking like an auto parts store!
Fantasy? Wishful thinking? Perhaps one day – 2107, if we’re lucky? The bladders are being replicated now, and the rest is on the way.
They’re even coming up with better ways to transport livers meant for transplant. The traditional method is Cold Storage – seal the liver in a sterile bag and place it in a cooler full of ice. Hypothermic Machine Perfusion (HMP) gives the liver its own “life support system” by simulating a human body. In a limited study, HMP seems to keep livers viable longer than the accepted Cold Storage technique.
If this technology works it will be transferred to other organs. And growing replacement organs, along with improvements in transporting organs for donation, will improve your chances of getting an organ if you need a transplant.