​​​​​​​Illinois providers pledge to offer more transplant surgeries

Hospitals and health systems in Illinois are committed to increasing their transplant activities to better reach patients across the state.

Representatives from several different systems and facilities in the state came together in Chicago earlier this week to push for organ donation awareness and explain how they plan to help more people get transplants, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Rush University Medical Center, for instance, revealed it intends to double the number of kidney transplants it performs from living donors in the next three years. The 664-bed academic facility also plans to use at least 40 kidneys from patients declared brain dead, or whose hearts have stopped. Northwestern Medicine also plans to expand its programs for living donors, according to the article, and will continue investing in research to grow new organs for patients.

"Imagine a world where patients in need of organs can have a customized organ built just in time," Michael Abecassis, M.D., director of Northwestern's Comprehensive Transplant Center, told the Tribune. "We do it with cars. We should be able to do it with organs."

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University of Chicago Medicine vowed to increase its transplantation activities by 20% over the next five years, and Loyola University Medical Center will launch a pancreas transplant program at some point this year, according to the article. A bill introduced recently in Illinois’ state legislature would also contribute to the cause, as it would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register as organ donors when they get their driver's’ licenses or state identification cards.

More than 4,700 patients in Illinois are waiting for a transplant, reported CBS Chicago, and 300 of them will die while they wait for their procedures, making it even more important for key stakeholders to come together and push for more people to become organ donors.

“I think it’s about awareness in the community, it’s about partnership with the hospitals, it’s about working hard to find the homes for all of those organs so that we can make more people eligible for donations,” Kevin Cmunt, CEO of Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, told CBS Chicago.