NEWS

Enthusiasm for implants does not have patients’ best interests at heart

Though the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center managed to set up a transplant unit in accordance with international specifications and succeeded in obtaining survival rates of 90 percent as opposed to the previous 40 percent rate, siren voices calling for mechanical assistance are trumpeting the end of transplants. That would mean Greece dropping below the level of Asian countries, many of which have transplant programs. The solution is to let the KESY decisions stand: that is, for assist devices to be implanted where they are really needed. Only in this way can decisions be respected, patients’ well-being ensured and health funding protected. That implants are «democratic» is a superficial argument: Wantonly scattering assist devices around the various health establishments of the country is very far removed from having the patient’s best interests at heart. Organ flight? At the very beginning of this article, I mentioned the diametrically opposed view: the need for yet more transplant centers on the grounds that organs are being shipped to Europe because there was no suitable recipient here in Greece. That raises the burning question: How many heart transplant centers does this country really need? The Onassis Center has demonstrated that it can achieve survival rates of 90 percent and that it is in a position to carry out many more transplants per year. If there are patients who really are waiting for a transplant, they should be referred to the center. Otherwise, they face the uncertainty entailed by centers that are still operating on a trial basis. This definitely does not mean that the cardiac surgery center wants a transplant monopoly. This writer, a product of the American system of education, has an unswerving belief in competition as an aid to progress. But since we are all citizens of Europe, would it not be better to help the Italian patient in Milan, with a Greek organ and an 80 percent chance of success, rather than wasting it by transplanting it into a Greek, in some newly formed center, with only a 40 percent chance of success? The golden rule of transplants is that the organ is placed where it has the greatest chance of success. There is likely to be fierce reaction to this article. This writer will stand by scientific facts, and will not be drawn into personal confrontations. The aim is to draw the attention of the state to the issue. Current Health Minister [Nikitas Kaklamanis] is a doctor who is intelligent and well informed, and is known neither for arrogance nor shortsightedness. Hopefully, he will decide on the right course of action.