In the United States, there are around 100,000 people on the waitlist for a donor kidney, yet thousands of kidneys from deceased donors are thrown out each year, rather than being transplanted. There are many reasons for discarding donated kidneys, include physical concerns such as abnormal organ biopsies, yet one of the most disconcerting reasons is fear among transplant centers that a transplant will violate federal regulations. Transplant programs face intense scrutiny, and transplant failures are met with concerns about loss of funding. These concerns mean that programs are forced to prioritize guaranteed healthy kidneys rather than taking any chances. This, of course, leaves many patients without what might have been a viable kidney, especially when that kidney has come from an older donor. The troubling trend has caught the attention of the White House, and in July 2019, President Donald Trump signed an executive order meant to address the ongoing problems. The government has good reason for wanting change: Patients suffering from kidney disease cost the country more than $114 billion USD every year.
- Humans have two kidneys but need only one to survive, since each contains five times more blood-filtering nephrons than required.
- The first successful transplantation of a human kidney was done in Boston in 1954; the recipient was 23 years old.
- The kidney of an adult person weighs approximately 5 ounces (142 grams), while a baby's kidney weighs less than an ounce (28 grams).