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McLear traveled to Michigan in 2008 to donate a kidney to her 26-year-old cousin, and is glad she did -- her cousin is thriving. But McLear had trouble finding out what to expect about her own post-surgery health. And a week after the donation, she developed a dangerous pancreas inflammation, a rare complication. She was readmitted to the hospital for seven more days and out of work for 12 weeks, nearly twice as long as she'd expected.
The new proposal: Transplant centers would have to track at least 90 percent of their living kidney donors for two years -- not just if they're still alive and having their kidney checked, but if they've had hospital readmissions, developed any other health problems, and had any loss of income or insurance due to their donation.
Separate proposals lay out the first standard informed-consent document to explain the risks, and aim to eliminate variation in how centers test a donor's fitness.
The proposals are open for public comment through late December, before a final decision next year. Among the concerns are donor cooperation and whether transplant centers have the staff and money to do the tracking.
The National Kidney Foundation has long pushed for such monitoring, and some transplant centers that specialize in living donations already try.
New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center, for example, opened a living-donor center two years ago that offers nutrition and other post-donation counseling in addition to health checks.
At Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, Dr. Jennifer Verbesey recently saw a woman who was doing fine medically after donating a kidney to her son, but had post-surgery depression.
"For a lot of people, there are a lot of ethical and emotional issues after transplant," Verbesey says. "If you tell me 99 percent of people will not have a problem, I still want to make sure I'm there to find the one person that might."
Transplant proposals: http://tinyurl.com/lja8nx
Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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