Testing the Human Small Intestine under Different Preservation Conditions Segmentally with a Look Into the Ethics of Health Insurance Involvement
Intestinal Transplant is becoming more prevalent with time as an powerful alternative to other therapies for intestinal failure such as parenteral nutrition. The small intestine is an organ especially susceptible to ischemia, or the lack of blood and oxygen supply to an organ. I studied ischemia at Yale Medical School in the lab of Dr. John Geibel. The purpose of this study was to find which kind of solution best protects the intestine from ischemia as well as which segments of the intestine are more susceptible to ischemic damage. This was done by cold static storage as well as through perfusing the organ with a unit developed in the lab called the Intestinal Perfusion Unit (IPU). Intestines were procured from deceased donors following the protocol for handling human specimen and then flushed with either the University of Wisconsin (UW) solution or the Histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate solution (HTK). It was found that the jejunum is more susceptible ischemia than the ileum. It was also found that in the jejunum, when using UW solution there was less damage then when using HTK. Clinically, this means that in transplant, if the ileum part is used, there is less risk for ischemic damage. The potential applications of this research raise many ethical issues related to organ transplantation more broadly. The ethical issues include but are not limited to: consent, distribution and need-based donation, transplant tourism, and cost and access. The costs for transplant are exorbitant for the average American. Private insurance companies and Medicare have no policy for intestinal transplant and are therefore not covering many patients in need. In this thesis, I briefly explore the role of insurance companies in the equitable distribution of innovative medical interventions.