Rage That Transplant Medicine Stagnates

The essay quoted below provides one more example of why we should unbind medical entrepreneurs to allow them to bring us more and faster cures.

(p. 8) Today, I will explain to my healthy transplanted heart why, in what may be a matter of days or weeks at best, she — well, we — will die.

. . .

Organ transplantation is mired in stagnant science and antiquated, imprecise medicine that fails patients and organ donors.

. . .

Over the last almost four decades a toxic triad of immunosuppressive medicines — calcineurin inhibitors, antimetabolites, steroids — has remained essentially the same with limited exceptions. These transplant drugs (which must be taken once or twice daily for life, since rejection is an ongoing risk and the immune system will always regard a donor organ as a foreign invader) cause secondary diseases and dangerous conditions, including diabetes, uncontrollable high blood pressure, kidney damage and failure, serious infections and cancers. The negative impact on recipients is not offset by effectiveness: the current transplant medicine regimen does not work well over time to protect donor organs from immune attack and destruction.

. . .

I am speaking for my transplant cardiologist, the finest physician I have ever known, who sat across from me last month and cried into his palms when he told me I had incurable cancer.

For the full essay, see:

Amy Silverstein. “My Donor Heart And I Will Die Soon.” The New York Times, SundayOpinion Section (Sunday, April 23, 2023): 8.

(Note: ellipsis added; in the original, the word “we” in the first sentence is in italics.)

(Note: the online version of the essay has the date April 18, 2023, and has the title “My Transplanted Heart and I Will Die Soon.”)

See also:

Williams, Alex. “Amy Silverstein, Who Chronicled a Life of Three Hearts, Dies at 59.” The New York Times (Weds., May 17, 2023): A21.

Some of the issues raised in Silverstein’s essay were earlier discussed in her book:

Silverstein, Amy. Sick Girl. New York: Grove Press, 2007.

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