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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

03/20/1997

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Doctors Warn of Organ Crisis

The man who performed the Soviet Union's first human heart transplant in 1986 warned Wednesday that a critical lack of funding could soon make lifesaving organ transplants a thing of the past in Russia. Valery Shumakov, director of Moscow's Organ Transplant Institute, said the facility might have to close within three months if at least $1.5 million of emergency funding is not forthcoming soon. He told a news conference that the transplant institute, Russia's largest, has not received any government financing for maintenance since April 1996, and that only partial funding has been available for medicine and salaries. Although there are about 20 transplant centers across Russia, the Moscow institute handles the vast majority of human transplants performed in the country. Because of financial problems, Shumakov said, only about 5 percent of people who need kidney transplants receive them. The average waiting time for a kidney was once about three years, he said, but now the list has practically stopped moving.

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