Heartland family reacts to thousands of kidneys being thrown out every year in the United States

Updated: Aug. 29, 2019 at 4:01 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A new study posted by JAMA Internal Medicine this week says 20 percent of donated kidneys in the United States are thrown out every year.

That number is alarming to the tens of thousands of people who are waiting on a life-saving kidney.

Nikki Bellew lives in Jackson, Missouri and she has been waiting for a kidney for more than six years. Just this week she went through her fourth failed attempt at a live kidney donation.

The news of so many kidneys being thrown out has her family wondering why.

“To be the sister of somebody who, I’m going to cry ... who’s life could be saved by something that’s just sitting in a trash can or tossed away somewhere it really breaks my heart,” said Savanna Taylor, Bellew’s sister.

She said when she heard 20 percent of donated kidneys are tossed out, it made her sick to her stomach.

“It only takes one kidney and to think that one could have been the one to not just save her life, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there,” said Taylor.

The study says from 2004 to 2014, 156,089 kidneys were donated and nearly 27,987 were discarded and that number continues to climb.

According to the National Kidney Foundation there are many reasons why kidneys are discarded including: poor organ quality, abnormal biopsy findings, anatomy and being cut off from a blood supply for too long.

In an article written by the National Kidney Foundation a panel of transplant experts say 50 percent of the kidneys that were discarded could have been used to help prolong someone’s life.

“I get that there are some that just can’t be used and it wouldn’t help anybody but the ones that could be I would love to see you know obviously I would love to see Nikki get one of them but anybody,” said Taylor.

In France, about 9 percent of donated kidneys were discarded during the study period. The difference according to researchers was because, in France, doctors were more willing to use older kidneys and kidneys from people who had other ailments.

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