106 posts in the category “Organ Transplants”

France flips the rules on organ donation

Posted February 14th, 2017 by

February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s day, it’s also National Donor Day. Did you know there are currently around 120,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ donation in the United States today? What better time to take a look at some of the measures other countries around the world are taking in order to combat their own long donor waiting lists.

Earlier this year, France made headlines by reversing its policy on organ donations so that all citizens are automatically presumed donors upon their death unless they join an official “opt-out” registry. Before that, unless the deceased person had made it known they did not wish to donate their organs, doctors were required to consult relatives, who in almost 30% of cases refused. The “opt-out” registry has garnered about 150,000 sign-ups so far.

France isn’t the only country to take an “opt-out” stance on organ donation. Countries like Belgium and Austria have also applied similar rules, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they see extremely high organ donation rates that hover around 98% and 99%. The list of registered organ donors in the US sits at around 48% of the population.

So, let’s take a look at some facts from the American Transplant Foundation about organ donation in the United States…

 

What do you think about France’s new law? Share your thoughts below or join the discussion in the forum.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Patients as Partners: The Perceived Medical Condition Self-Management Scale questionnaire results

Posted April 18th, 2014 by

Back at the beginning of April, we launched a new blog series called Patients as Partners that highlights the results and feedback PatientsLikeMe members give to questionnaires on our Open Research Exchange (ORE) platform. This time around, we’re sharing the results of the Perceived Medical Condition Self-Management Scale (PMCSMS), a health measure that looks at how confident people are in managing their own conditions. More than 1,500 members from 9 different condition communities on PatientsLikeMe took part. They worked with our research partner Ken Wallston from Vanderbilt University to make the tool the best it can be. (Thank you to everyone that participated! This is your data doing good.) Check out the PMCSMS results and keep your eyes peeled for more ORE questionnaire results as we continue the series on the blog.

What’s ORE all about again? PatientsLikeMe’s ORE platform gives patients the chance to not only check an answer box, but also share their feedback on each question in a researcher’s health measure. They can tell our research partners what makes sense, what doesn’t, and how relevant the overall tool is to their condition. It’s all about collaborating with patients as partners to create the most effective tools for measuring disease.


Living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Posted March 1st, 2013 by

What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)? How many people does it affect? Do we know what the cause is? Can it be treated? If you don’t know the answers, you’re not alone. IPF is considered a rare disease by the National Institutes of Health and much of the research surrounding it is not definitive.

© Kempski | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

So what do we know? IPF is a degenerative condition with no known cause that gradually scars a person’s lung tissue. As more and more tissue scars, the lungs slowly lose their ability to transfer oxygen to vital organs. This can lead to shortness of breath and dry coughing. As the condition progresses, everyday activities become exhausting – just climbing a flight of stairs can be a challenge. It usually affects people between the ages of 50 and 70 years old. More than 100,000 people in the US are diagnosed every year and nearly 40,000 will pass away. The only known cure is a lung transplant.

If you’re living with IPF, find others just like you in our growing community of more than 900 IPF patients. Learn what they’re doing to manage their condition with symptom and treatment reports, and share your own experience with a personal health profile and in the IPF forum. If you haven’t read about our collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to create this customized IPF experience on PatientsLikeMe, check it out here.

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Give the Gift of Life on National Donor Day

Posted February 13th, 2013 by

Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love for your significant other.  But what if it were also about showing your love for perfect strangers?

February 14th is National Donor Day, a day of awareness about how registering to be an organ donor can give someone a second chance at life.  Does your driver’s license currently indicate that you are a donor?  If not, and you’d like your organs (as well as potentially your tissues, marrow, platelets and blood) to help someone else after you are no longer here, sign up to be a donor today.  In the time it takes you to register, someone with a life-threatening condition will be added to the waitlist.

Wondering if your registration will really make a difference?  Here are a few statistics that help underscore the need for more donors:

  • 117,001 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant
  • 18 people will die each day while waiting for a new organ
  • 1 organ donor can save up to eight lives total

In particular, there is a need for more minority donors.  While organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, there is a greater likelihood that compatible blood types and tissue markers – the critical elements of the matching process – will be found among members of the same ethnicity.  Thus, a greater diversity of donors could potentially increase access to transplantation, which is essentially the only treatment for end-stage organ failure (e.g. kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure).

Are you awaiting an organ transplant – or the recipient of one?  Join PatientsLikeMe to connect with others like you.  We have thousands of transplant patients among our members, including those with (or still awaiting) a heart transplant, kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant and pancreas transplant. What’s it like to go through organ transplantation? Read our in-depth Patient Voice report on “Life After a Transplant” as well as our insightful interviews with liver transplant recipient Amy Tippins and kidney transplant recipient Michael Burke.


Coping with Changes in Physical Appearance

Posted January 24th, 2013 by

When you are diagnosed with a life-changing illness, your doctor may prepare you for how the disease will affect your physical functions.  But as our members point out, patients also need to be prepared for the changes in physical appearance they may experience.  For example, how do you deal with hair loss, facial swelling, weight gain, blotchy skin or other unexpected changes?  Or get comfortable with the use of new equipment such as leg braces, walkers or wheelchairs that may attract attention?  Most importantly, what can you do to still feel beautiful?

A cute hat can help to cover thinning hair or bald spots.  Image courtesy of Stock Free Images.

Here are some suggestions from members of our PatientsLikeMe Forum, where patients with different conditions come together to discuss universal issues:

  • Using attractive scarves or hats to cover thinning hair or bald spots
  • Experimenting with different cosmetics to see what works best
  • Treating yourself to a spa manicure and pedicure as a pick-me-up
  • Trying out different explanations for your new brace/walker/wheelchair when asked to see what feels right and what produces the most acceptable responses
  • Soaking in a scented Epsom salt bath to ease pain and relax
  • Consulting with a hair stylist about better styles for thinning hair
  • Using gentle, non-drying facial cleansers and lotions
  • Switching to an electric razor to improve ease and safety
  • Donating your hair to Locks of Love to put a feel-good spin on it

Have you discovered other tricks to help you deal with a changing appearance?  Join this ongoing discussion in our forum or share your experiences in the comments section.


Live Better Together in 2013

Posted January 4th, 2013 by

Last year, over 170,00 patients learned from each other’s shared experiences every day on PatientsLikeMe. In 2013, we promise to continue putting the patient first. We’ll provide better, more effective ways for sharing real-world health experiences that help you, other patients like you, and organizations that focus on your conditions.

You’ll hear us talk more than ever this year about living better, together. What does that mean to you? As we kick off 2013, just know this…what inspires us most to live better, together is YOU.

From everyone at PatientsLikeMe, Happy New Year!

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A Patient Poem for the Modern Age

Posted December 31st, 2012 by

Can you be friends with someone you’ve never met in person?

The members of our online health community – now 300, 000+ patients strong – think so.  In fact, many of them say they depend on other members for support and encouragement, and for the all-important reminder that they are not alone.

As evidence, here is a touching poem written by a newer PatientsLikeMe member.  Although he wishes to remain anonymous, he says that he wrote the poem to “uplift people who feel like no one understands them.”

Dedicated to Internet Friends

It’s strange to have a friend

that you have never hugged,

lightly touched their arm,

or looked into their eyes.

But you have touched their soul

felt their heart

been embraced by their warmth of being.

A friend unseen is not a friend untouched.

The eyes of the soul will gaze,

the heart will embrace

the image will stand tall

but only in a dream.

Want to connect with those who can truly relate?  No matter what health condition you have – from multiple sclerosis to fibromyalgia to Parkinson’s disease – find others like you at PatientsLikeMe.


Not Recognizing the “New Me”

Posted December 10th, 2012 by

Are You Resistant to the Idea of a Wheelchair?

For many newly diagnosed patients, accepting help can be as difficult as accepting the diagnosis itself.  According to some of the members of our Parkinson’s disease community, here are a few signs that you may be struggling with the idea of becoming someone who might need help.

  • Have you found yourself feeling resentful when family, friends or strangers try to assist with something?
  • Have you resisted using a complimentary wheelchair (e.g., at the airport or on cruise ship) out of embarrassment?
  • Have you worried that becoming someone who receives help is going to change your lifelong identity?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are far from alone.  Many PatientsLikeMe members report that learning to accept help gracefully is one of the most challenging aspects of chronic illness.  And it’s not just allowing the help itself, per se, but seeing yourself in a new light, as one member puts it.  It’s not unusual to take great pride in being a superman or superwoman, the type of handy, resourceful person who does it all and is always helping others in the family or community.  This can be part of your self-image, as well as a source of self-esteem.

So what do you do when you are suddenly the person being helped instead of the helper?  It requires a psychological shift, according to our members, that involves letting go of ego and viewing the care and assistance you are receiving as a gift, not an insult.  It also means communicating frequently and lovingly about the issue, so as to address “the elephant in the room.”  If you can manage the task yourself, speak up and say so politely, advises one patient.  Otherwise, practice saying “thank you” and “I love you” with gratitude, encourages another member.  Ultimately, as our members state over and over, the best tools for coming to terms with the realities of your new life are a positive attitude, humor and support from others like you.

Can you relate to this common hurdle?  Join this insightful discussion in our forum or share your thoughts in the comments section.


Honoring Family Caregivers Everywhere

Posted November 26th, 2012 by

Is there a caregiver in your family?  For example, someone who looks out for an elderly parent or grandparent – or who cares for a child or spouse with a debilitating illness?

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time for recognizing the important role of family caregivers in our society as well as the challenges they face on a daily basis.  Currently more than 65 million Americans (or approximately 29% of the US population) are serving in a caregiver role in any given year, averaging 20 hours per week.  Approximately 66% are women. The value of services these caregivers provide for “free” when caring for older adults is estimated to be $375 billion per year.

Yet what many people may not think about is the economic and health impact on the family caregiver.  Financially, caregiving families have median incomes that are 15% lower than non-caregiving families, and women caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty than non-caregivers.  In terms of health and well-being, approximately 40 to 70% of caregivers report clinically significant symptoms of depression, according to one study, while 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves.  Read other eye-opening caregiver statistics here.

PatientsLikeMe strives to support and involve caregivers with our “CareTeam” concept, which was developed to include everyone who participates in the care of our patient members.  That could be a spouse/partner, parent, child, doctor, therapist, home health worker, sibling, relative or friend.  Patients can invite caregivers to join PatientsLikeMe, and once they are members, send them a CareTeam invite to link together their profiles.  That way, both the patient and caregiver can stay abreast of how the other is doing physically, emotionally and socially.

ALS patient Persevering’s CareTeam members (his wife and his sister, respectively) are displayed in the “About Me” section of his profile.

Currently, there are more than 7,000 caregivers registered with PatientsLikeMe, many of whom are active users of our forums, who chart their own symptoms and treatments and who are seeking information, guidance and support directly from patients or other caregivers.  Browse their profiles – even if they have no specific health issues, caregivers can monitor their well-being with tools like our InstantMe and Quality of Life surveys – and find out what their life is like today.


What’s Positive About Disease?

Posted November 21st, 2012 by

What Are You Unexpectedly Grateful for?

It may seem counterintuitive, but according to some of our members, there are actually some good things that can come out of being diagnosed with a serious illness.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving – a time when many people are reminded of all the things they have to be grateful for – we thought we would share some of our members’ uplifting sentiments.

From our Fibromyalgia Community, some of the unexpected benefits include:

  • Getting to spend more time with children or grandchildren
  • Taking advantage of “good days” with a little extra gusto
  • Appreciating what you have…and knowing it could be worse
  • Refocusing on new hobbies like gardening and meditation

From our Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Community, some of the unexpected benefits include:

  • Letting go of the pressurized feeling that you have to do it all
  • A deeper understanding of how many people face major challenges
  • Discovering new artistic talents, such as painting or needle work
  • Slowing down the pace of life and prioritizing sleep – without guilt

From our Epilepsy Community, some of the unexpected benefits include:

  • Learning to never judge a person by only what you see
  • Becoming more patient and not taking anything for granted
  • Filtering out fair-weather friends and uncaring partners
  • Having extra motivation to live the healthiest lifestyle possible

What about you?  Have you noticed some positive takeaways from your illness?  Share them in our comments section in honor of Thanksgiving.  And, from everyone at PatientsLikeMe, we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday!


What We’re Reading at PatientsLikeMe

Posted November 7th, 2012 by

Here are some of the media items that grabbed our attention recently.

Four Things I Learned from Living with a Chronic Illness
Wise advice from a teenager who had to give up competitive gymnastics and find a new perspective on life after being diagnosed with a disease that causes chronic pain.

Access to Doctors’ Notes Aids Patients’ Treatment
A new study finds that patients better understand their condition and feel more in control when they can read their doctors’ notes (something you’re legally entitled to access).

Why We Need Ecological Medicine
Do we need exposure to a diversity of bacteria and germs for optimal immune health?  A thought-provoking essay about the “germ theory,” “hygiene hypothesis” and more.

What We're Reading at PatientsLikeMe.  Image Courtesy of Stock Free Images.

Coming Next:  Using an App as Prescribed
A New York Times piece about whether healthcare apps – now regulated by the FDA – could reduce costs and change the way we monitor health.

Help with ALS via Twitter
An article about our partner ALS Untangled and how they are applying scientific rigor to the investigation of alternative therapies in ALS, having reviewed 45 to date.

Mining the Internet for Speedier Alerts on Drugs
The Wall Street Journal examines the results of a study showing that Internet search algorithms can detect adverse events for certain drugs ahead of FDA warnings.


PatientsLikeMe Featured on Bloomberg TV

Posted October 15th, 2012 by

On October 9th, Bloomberg TV aired a four-and-a-half minute “Innovators” segment profiling PatientsLikeMe’s journey as company.  Filmed partially in our office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the piece features PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood as well as Ed Sikov, a PatientsLikeMe member with Parkinson’s disease.  Our thanks go to Bloomberg’s Nicole Lapin for her in-depth coverage of our evolution into a data-sharing platform that, as she puts it, “functions more like a clinical trial.”

Visit our Press page for other recent PatientsLikeMe media highlights.

Watch the Bloomberg TV profile below:


The Joy of Being Helpful

Posted August 27th, 2012 by

Many patients with life-changing conditions report feelings of grief and guilt about no longer being able to do many of the things they did in the past.  As a recent discussion in our forum revealed, however, patients are finding ways to reset their perspective and boost their self-esteem by focusing on what they are still able to give to others, despite the challenges of their illness.

The Joy of Being Helpful

Here are some of the small and large contributions our members have made, helping them to feel good about themselves:

  • Going to the hospice to sit and talk with the residents
  • Sending handwritten letters via snail mail to loved ones
  • Participating in educational events about the role of service dogs
  • Getting good friends together for a gathering to reconnect
  • Volunteering in a food bank to appreciate having food to eat
  • Calling an isolated grandparent or friend regularly on the phone
  • Allowing the cat from down the road to come inside and snuggle
  • Fostering or adopting medically fragile children in the system

Have you found strength – or a renewed sense of purpose – by doing what you can to help others?  Share your experiences in the comments section.  Also, you may want to check out two books recommended by our members for inspiration:  Strong at the Broken Places, about five different patients with chronic illnesses including ALS and Crohn’s disease, and 29 Gifts, written by a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient whose South African healer gave her a prescription of helping others for an entire month.


Know Your ABC’s on World Hepatitis Day

Posted July 27th, 2012 by

Did you know that both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact – but hepatitis B is commonly transmitted through unprotected sex as well?  Also, there is a vaccine available for only one of these forms of hepatitis.  Do you know which one it is? (Answer: hepatitis B)

Because these “silent” infections may not cause symptoms for years, hepatitis B and C are the focus of World Hepatitis Day, which takes place tomorrow, July 28th, and is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA). (There is another form of this viral infection called hepatitis A, which is typically transmitted through contaminated food or drinking water.)

World Hepatitis Day 2012

The reasons for greater awareness are stark:  the WHO estimates that two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus and approximately 240 million people are living with chronic liver infections. Approximately 600,000 people will die every year from the consequences of hepatitis B.  In addition, there are around 150 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C worldwide, and more than 350,000 die each year from related liver diseases, according to the WHO.

Despite these alarming figures, hepatitis remains poorly understood, and the majority of those infected are unaware.  Should their infections become chronic, people living with either hepatitis B or C are at risk for serious liver complications, including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.  In some cases, a liver transplant may be required.

You can learn firsthand about these conditions and their complications from our hepatitis patients at PatientsLikeMe.  As of today, 88 patients report hepatitis B, while 299 patients report hepatitis C.  In addition, 522 patients have undergone a liver transplant to replace a diseased liver.

If you haven’t been tested for hepatitis – or you want to know more about the hepatitis B vaccination – talk to your doctor at your next visit.  If you’re living with chronic hepatitis, we invite you to join our supportive community today.