Hospital wants kidney donors

After four months, the University Hospital’s solid organ transplant service has yet to find a candidate to donate a kidney with the Anonymous Living Donor Program.

The program, said Kim Phillips, director of the solid organ transplant service and a registered nurse, was started after the YesUtah Donor Registry was established with a federal grant.

The YesUtah Donor Registry is a list of everyone in the state who agreed to donate their organs in case of death or brain death, as noted on his or her driver’s license. The registry automatically qualifies the person as a donor.

To further assist the 130 Utahns who are waiting for a kidney transplant, Intermountain Donor Services has developed the new Anonymous Living Donor Program, which allows people to donate kidneys while still alive, Phillips said.

Although LDS Hospital has already been able to perform a kidney transplant from a living donor, U Hospital is still waiting to find qualifying candidates.

After the donor registry was developed, Intermountain Donor Services mass mailed everyone on the list with information about living anonymous donations. Later, mass mailings were sent to everyone with a driver’s license.

They are called anonymous because the donor doesn’t know to whom the organ will be given when they sign up, Phillips said.

There were 235 requests for more information after the mailings, but only 137 were interested enough to fill out a health questionnaire. Of those, only 76 returned the questionnaire after understanding the health risks. Then Intermountain Donor Services interviewed the 43 applicants who had good health and only 23 passed the interviews and were referred to local hospitals.

About half of those came to U Hospital and although some are still being looked at, no one has yet qualified as a candidate, Phillips said.

Because the transplant programs need to be sure the candidates will not later need their donated kidneys, the screening is meticulous to make sure candidates are in perfect health.

Hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes are typical conditions that disqualify a candidate, Phillips said.

Although most students older than 21 years old would be healthy enough to qualify, the program encourages young people to really think about the decision.

Many young people wait until after they have started families to make sure one of their children or close relatives will not need their kidneys, or even to make sure that they stay healthy and don’t develop a heath condition themselves, Phillips said.

Despite the lack of success recently, Phillips is still excited about the new program.

Although only about 10 candidates filtered down to his program, he said, “Even taking 10 people off of the waiting list would be a huge improvement over what we have now.”

Anyone interested in knowing more about living donations can visit

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