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The Facts About Cystic Fibrosis and Organ Transplantation


CF is a progressive, genetic disease of the lungs and pancreas that affects 30,000 people in the United States and about 100,000 worldwide. CF mostly affects Caucasians, but it exists in all ethnicities. When both parents carry the gene, there is a one in four chance of having a child with CF. The disease requires daily medication and rigorous respiratory treatments to help clear the lungs of thick, sticky mucus. Many people with CF also deal with digestive problems. Chronic lung damage eventually leads to lung failure, resulting in the need for a lung transplant or death. While the average life expectancy in the 1980's was in the teens, the current median life expectancy for CF patients is 38 years. There are about 37 CF patients in Japan, and the average life expectancy is 15 years.


Organ transplantation is now a routine treatment for end-stage organ failure. Anyone can be an organ donor regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or medical history. Eight organs and up to 50 tissues can be transplanted from one deceased donor, including bones, tendons, cornea, skin, heart valves, and veins. Living organ donors can donate one of their kidneys, or portions of their liver, lung or pancreas. Most organ donors become donors because they are declared brain dead. Brain death means that blood circulation to the brain has permanently ceased due to traumatic injury and swelling, and the brain no longer functions. A brain dead patient on life support can appear alive, but actually, the heart will stop shortly after life support is discontinued.

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