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Of All Organs, Kidneys Are Texas' Most In-Demand for Transplants

Kidneys are the most coveted organs for transplants in Texas, a state that has 12,000 patients on transplant lists.
Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune
Kidneys are the most coveted organs for transplants in Texas, a state that has 12,000 patients on transplant lists.

Doctors in Austin are trying to urgently match five-year-old Leland with a new kidney. He’s on dialysis, and in the highest and most urgent category of patients needing a new organ.

His situation is an example of the pressing need for organ donors in Texas and across the U.S.

The most common kinds of transplanted kidneys are from cadavers or adults who recently died and donated their organs. But living organ matches are possible too. Dr. Mark Shen, the president of Dell Children’s Medical Center, says a kidney from a living adult could work as a transplant for Leland:

“That is a possibility with kidneys. You can take an adult kidney and even use it in somebody Leland’s size.”

Kidneys are the organs in highest demand.

“Think about this,” says Michelle Segovia. “If you or your loved one needed a life-saving organ transplant, wouldn’t you want that gift to be available to you?”

Segovia is with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance. She says people should keep in mind that transplants are usually more successful if the donor and the recipient share a genetic similarity. So if more minorities donate their organs, more minorities will get the transplants they need.

“People need organ transplants more now than ever, especially in the minority communities where we see a higher incidents of hyper tension and diabetes,” Segovia says.

More than 12,000 people in Texas need a transplant. And in Texas, 44 percent of people on the waiting list are Latino.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has contributed reporting to NPR, PRI's The World, Here & Now and Latino USA, the Agence France Presse, TIME in Hong Kong and PBS NewsHour, among others. She has two degrees from Columbia University, and has dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee.