New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 4, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
Herald-Zeitung g Wednesday, December 4, 1996 J 9ANetwork establishes new regulations for liver transplants
The United Network for Organ Sharing, which sets national standards on transplant policy, revised the way it allocates livers for transplantation on Nov. 14, giving highest priority to the sickest patients with the greatest chance of surviving.
The new top-priority group includes patients with sudden and complete liver failure, those whose first transplant rapidly failed, and certain pediatric patients.
UNOS’ decision means patients with chronic hepatitis B or C and their physicians can no longer count on liver transplantation to treat the long-term effects of their disease.
The new UNOS priorities thus represent a call to action to test for hepatitis B and C in their patients with risk factors for these infections, and to treat eligible patients.
Further, they make it all the more urgent for Americans to learn the risk
foetors for hepatitis B and C, and for those who are at risk to seek diagnosis and treatment.
Fortunately, clinical trials have shown that treating chronic hepatitis B and C with lntron A (interferon alfa-2b) improves the outcome for more than half of patients.
The earlier treatment is started in the course of the disease, the better the chances for a favorable result.
Media reports have suggested that only alcoholics and intravenous drug users are at risk for hepatitis.
But intraveneous drug use is only one of the risk factors for hepatitis B and C, which are blood-borne viral diseases. These types of hepatitis can be contracted through sharing a toothbrush or a razor with an infected person; tattooing or body piercing with contaminated instruments, or unprotected sex with an infected partner.
Health care professionals are also at risk through their exposure to infected blood.
The U.S. government recently reported that more than 300,000 people may be infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions prior to 1990, when a test for the virus became available; people who received a blood transfusion before 1972 may be at risk for hepatitis B for similar reasons. Moreover, nearly one-third of the people with these
infections cannot identify any risk factors.
In fact, some 5 million Americans are estimated to have chronic hepatitis B or C, and the great majority of them arc unaware of their infection. The reason is that only 30 percent to 40 percent of people with chronic hepatitis develop symptoms, which may include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), malaise, fever, nausea and mild abdominal pain.
The majority of carriers show few if any clinical symptoms and appear and feel healthy, even though they may be developing permanent liver damage. Among the resources established to counter the threat and stigma associated with hepatitis C is the Hep C Connection, a metro-Denver network and support organization founded in 1995 to provide hepatitis C-challenged individuals and their families sound medical information, encouragement
This organization focuses on up-to-date clinical information and approved treatment options, in addition to providing support group ' settings where participants’ personal experiences are shared. For more information on the Hep C Connection and affiliated hepatitis C support organizations, call 1-800-HEPC.
(Submitted bv the Hep C Connection)
McQueeney firefighters to conduct drive against holiday blood shortage
The McQueeney Volunteer Fire Department is conducting a blood drive from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 11 for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center to prevent a holiday shortage.
Anyone between 17 and 72 who weighs at least I IO pounds and is in good general health is encouraged to give.
Donors receive a free cholesterol test and a mini physical — checking for temperature, pulse, iron level and blood pressure. Donors will receive a letter about IO days after giving with their blood type and cholesterol level.
Donors should eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and
vegetables and low-fat meats prior to donating.
To provide better service, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center requests all donors show proper indentification — including date of birth, Social Security number or photo identification — before beginning the donation process.
For more information or to sign up for the drive, call Tim Bogisch at 625-3411 or 560-2617.
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