State Secures New Organ Transplant Center

Published On: Feb 04 2012 04:14:53 AM HST   Updated On: Feb 04 2012 06:11:23 AM HST

For Michael Kan, Saturday's bill signing is not only a celebration for him, it is also a new beginning for his family, who over the last four years watched as Kan's body fought off a failing kidney.

"I can actually get my life back. I can spend more time with my family, with my daughter," said Kan.

The closures of Hawaii Medical Centers east and west facilities shut down the states only organ transplant center, increasing fears faced by more than 400 Hawaii patients waiting for life-saving transplants. However with Governor Neil Abercrombie signing HB 608 into law on Saturday, the law secures hope for the patients and their families.

"Today is a reprieve, like I can have a second chance at life. I can just sit back and wait for them to call me," said dialysis patient Antonio Pangan.

In a deal made with the state, the Queens Medical Center agreed to house an organ transplant center while also paying for half of the opening and operational costs. The transaction causes the hospital to lose roughly $8 million over the next five years, but it is a financial loss the hospital said is paid for with the gift of human life.

"The biggest responsibility is to make sure that we have good outcomes, that we take care of the patients who are on the waitlist, who have end stage diseases," said Dr. Whitney Limm.

"It makes them (Queens Medical Center) have to invest to match the state money, so if they wanted to have any parts of the $1.5 million they got to put up their share 50 percent to match our 50 percent," said Rep. Ryan Yamane (D).

Yamane is also proposing legislation this session to reopen Hawaii Medical Center's Liliha location for long-term care.

When news of HMC's possible shutdown spread last year, Yamane took emergency measures to start securing the funding, cutting down on the time it would have taken this legislative session. Patients are grateful, believing his foresight may result in lives saved.

"This is like a door opening again. I at least have a possibility of getting a transplant and a possibility of living a normal life," said Kan.

Limm said the first organ transplant surgery could be scheduled as soon as next month. Limm also said transplant nurses from HMC East were hired to work at the Queens Medical Center.

The new law also give the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii $300,000 to maintain its chronic kidney disease management program.


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