Lost in Transplantation

Aug 19, 2020

Delivering donated organs quickly to patients waiting for a transplant is a matter of life and death. Yet transportation errors are leading to delays in surgeries that put patients in danger and make some organs unusable. This week, we look at weaknesses in the nation’s system for transporting organs and solutions for making it work better. 

More than any other organ, donated kidneys are put on commercial flights so they can get to waiting patients. In collaboration with Kaiser Health News, we look at the system for transporting kidneys and how a lack of tracking and accountability can result in waylaid or misplaced kidneys.

We then look at the broader issues affecting organ procurement in the U.S. with Jennifer Erickson, who worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama administration. She says one of the system’s weaknesses is that not enough organs are recovered from deceased people – not nearly as many as there could be.

We end with an audio postcard about honor walks, a new ritual that hospitals are adopting to honor the gift of life that dying people are giving to patients who will receive their organs. We follow the story of one young man who was killed in a car accident over the summer.

This show has been updated with new reporting, based on a show that originally was broadcast Feb. 8, 2020.