Hope for Kidney Patients in El Paso

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 7:20pm

EL PASO - Many families know how devastating it can be to find out you have a terminal disease, and the only shot you have at living, is to get a transplant. Now, the Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso is making that process easier for medicaid and medicare patients.

Previously, the facility was only able to grant kidney transplants to those who had private medical coverage. Now, Las Palmas can officially transplant kidneys to medicare and medicaid patients.

This new service, makes Las Palmas the only hospital-- within an over 260-mile radius, that can perform kidney transplants for those public health care patients.

This is a big deal to Marcus Chaffee, who is currently on the wait list for a transplant. He said while his kidney function is low, he still feels well, partly because of the care he's received at Las Palmas.

“From the very beginning, I think they have taken very good care of me,” said Chaffee.

Chaffee is hopeful that he'll have a new kidney soon, even though he acknowledges that the number of donors is low.

“It's pretty hard. It's far more people that need [transplants], than there are organs available,” said Chaffee.

Another issue is that not everyone is healthy enough to receive a transplant.

“There are over 1600 [people] on dialysis. Not everyone that's on dialysis will be a candidate for a transplant; there are some preclusions that could prevent them from getting a transplant,” said Hector Luna Diaz, from Las Palmas.

Despite that, doctors at Las Palmas say that overall, this is a good thing for the area, and they're glad to offer the service.

“This has been a long process. It's been a lot of ...effort to put this program together,” said Jorge Acosta, who works as a general surgeon for Las Palmas.

There are currently 80 patients on the wait list for a kidney at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Now, those patients have the option to go to Las Palmas for a transplant.

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