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'60s Teen Idol Bobby Rydell's Double Organ Transplant

Thursday, 19 July 2012 03:04 PM

Many people did a double take recently when they saw the news that 70-year-old former teen idol singer Bobby Rydell had undergone transplants of his liver and a kidney. There was a time when organ transplants were rarely, if ever, performed on older patients.
But experts says that the elderly are increasingly getting new organs, even undergoing double organ transplants like Rydell’s.
“The bottom line is that we’ve advanced in the field of organ transplantation, so even double organ transplants like this is an everyday thing,” says Dr. Chauncey Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Rydell, whose signature hits include “Volare” and “Wild One,” underwent the surgery last week at a Philadelphia hospital. The reason for the transplant has not been revealed, but he it was reported that his doctor did not expect him to live another month without the procedure.
Age is becoming less of a factor when considering organ transplantation, said Dr. Crandall, who noted that former vice president Dick Cheney recently received a new heart at the age of 71 and has returned to an active life.
About 60 percent of organ transplant patients now are over the age of 60. This includes 71 percent of people receiving liver transplants and 57 percent of kidney transplants, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Performing organ transplants on older patients is not unusual now, especially since older patients don’t need a perfect, young organ. This can give an older patient a little advantage on an organ donor list because you’re not going for the perfect organ,” Dr. Crandall said.
Now that he’s undergone the surgery, Rydell can expect to live at least five more years, and perhaps longer, said Dr. Crandall. Up until recently, Rydell continued to tour, often with his teen idol peers, Fabian and Frankie Avalon.
Better patient selection, along with improvements in both surgery and immunosuppressant drugs are the key to the reasons why organ transplants among seniors, once considered experimental, are becoming so common.
But risks still remain. Although immunosuppressant drugs make transplant possible, they open the door to infection, and even cancer, noted Dr. Crandall.
Because these drugs suppress the immune system, organ transplant patients are at twice the risk of developing many different types of cancer, including malignancies in the transplanted organs.
Still, Dr. Crandall noted that the benefits of organ transplants often outweigh the risks. “Look at Dick Cheney. He’s already back in politics, he’s not limited in travel, he’s leading a good life.”
Following his transplant, Rydell vowed to work for the cause of organ donation. “It’s the gift of life,” he said. “It’s truly a miracle. The doctor and I, we are going to work and make people aware of organ donorship. It’s very, very important.”

© HealthDay

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Bobby Rydell's double organ transplant highlights the fact that organ transplants among seniors have become common.
Thursday, 19 July 2012 03:04 PM
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