Ethical Considerations Living Kidney Donor

AST’s letter to Gov. Barbour re: Scott Sisters

January 6, 2011

The Honorable Haley Barbour
Governor of Mississippi
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, MS 39205

Dear Governor Barbour;

On behalf of the American Society of Transplantation (AST), representing the majority of professionals engaged in the field of solid organ transplantation, we write to express our strong concern regarding the reported linkage between organ donation and your suspension of the prison sentences for Gladys and Jamie Scott. Of particular concern to our Society is your recent statement that Ms. Scott’s suspended sentence is contingent upon her willingness to serve as a kidney donor to her sister. This conditional release and quid pro quo scenario runs counter to the current standard of practice for organ transplantation and widely accepted medical ethics.

As you may be aware, the donation of an organ in exchange for anything of value is
prohibited under the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984. As amended,
NOTA prohibits knowingly acquiring, receiving or otherwise transferring any human
organ for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce. With regard to the Scott sisters, any determination for a suspended sentence should not be based on one’s willingness to become an organ donor. Failure to remove organ donation from the vetting process of such a suspended sentence jeopardizes the altruistic motivation for all organ donation and sets a dangerous precedent for the future of solid organ transplantation.

The AST respectfully requests that you de-link and separate the suspended sentence for Gladys Scott from her willingness to become an organ donor. If you or your staff have questions or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or the AST directly. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

Maryl R Johnson, MD
AST President

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