FORT MYERS, FLa. -- After John James Sugar Donaldson died trying to donate a kidney to his father, the Gulf Coast Medical Center temporarily suspended its kidney transplant program. As the hospital celebrates its 100th year, they're also celebrating major changes to how they'll conduct transplants.
"We've completely revamped the program so we are going from a private practice model to an in-hospital model," said Lynsey Biondi, the hospitals new Director of Transplantation Services. Once the hospital hires several of their own transplant surgeons, they'll apply for reactivation of their kidney donor programs through the United Network for Organ Sharing.
In the meantime, no transplants will take place. "We're going to temporarily inactivate the program. That means we wont be doing transplants temporarily," Biondi said.
About 300 patients are on the waiting list. They'll continue to gain wait time or can be transferred if they choose. "It is an emotional thing and we're sorry for that but I honestly believe this is for the best interest of the patients to keep them safe until we rebuild this team," Biondi added.
Over 900 kidney transplants have been conducted in the 26 years the programs been in place. Statistically only one in every 3,300 die in live donor donations. Donaldson's death is leading to the hospital changing the way it selects live donors. "We're adding levels of redundancy to make sure we're not missing things to make sure that we have the best interest of every patient at heart," Biondi concluded.