Life: Living donations are not without risk - surgery is never without risk

Interesting item at CNN.com about living donation of organs.

In some cases organs come from those who died who indicated a willingness to be a donor. In some cases the organ comes from a living person who is compatible to the recipient.

It should be said that transplanting a part of a liver is probably a bigger challenge than transplanting other organs. However, the reality is that in any organ transplant it is surgery and surgery is NEVER without risk. Of course, in the case of Laura Fritz, the donation saved the life of her mother but resulted in Laura nearly dying due to complications of the surgery.

6 years ago I had emergency surgery for a small bowel obstruction (SBO). The risk benefit calculation was that if nothing was done, the SBO could get worse and lead to the type of infection described in the CNN.com piece about Laura Fritz. By all accounts my surgery was uneventful.

However, since that surgery, I have been hospitalized three additional times for SBO. Fortunately, those episodes resolved without surgery. In a turn of medical irony, one side-effect of the surgical treatment for SBO is increased risk for future SBO.

My hat is off to those who willingly undergo surgery to donate an organ to someone. Having gone through surgery on an emergency basis, I'm not so sure I'd be willing to do so on a voluntary basis. I suppose knowing I might be saving the life of someone else would make the risk and pain worth it. I'd like to believe that is how I'd see it.

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