[Frontiers in Bioscience 1, d248-265, September 1, 1996]


D.K.C. Cooper, MA, PhD, MD, MS, FRCS, FACC, FACS

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Received 07/16/96; Accepted 08/12/96; On-line 09/01/96


Organ transplantation is one of the success stories of the second part of the twentieth century. During the past 10 years results have steadily improved and patients undergoing kidney, liver, or heart transplantation can realistically anticipate approximate 80% and 70% one and 5-year survival, respectively. At the Oklahoma Transplantation Institute in Oklahoma City, for example, since 1987 almost 200 heart transplants have been performed with an overall one-year survival of 91% and a 7-year survival of 80% (1-3).

The major limiting factor to organ transplantation today is the increasing shortage of suitable donor organs. In the USA, approximately 45,000 people are listed for solid organ transplantation by UNOS, and yet less than 6000 cadaveric donors become available each year, from which approximately 20,000 donor organs are obtained. The discrepancy between the number of potential recipients and donor organs is increasing by approximately 10-15% annually (4). Patients on dialysis awaiting kidney transplants are, therefore, waiting for longer and longer periods of time, and patients awaiting liver or heart transplantation may well die before a suitable donor becomes available.

One solution to this problem would be the use of animal organs - xenotransplantation (5,6). This field of research has been undergoing intensive and increasing study during the past few years, and some encouraging progress is being made.

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