Advocacy Ethical Considerations

Definition of Success, tranplant style

The above link is a short editorial from a living donor waxing poetic about insurance comapnies’ tendency to deny living donors care and coverage due to a ‘pre-existing condition’.

The very end of the editorial says:

Kathie McClure, an Atlanta attorney and the founder of, successfully donated a kidney to Dan Krinsky in August.

Sucessful for whom? Mr. Krinsky, who is apparently recovering well, or successful for the surgeons and transplant center because they managed not to maim Ms. McClure during the procedure?

Ms. McClure is now at a higher risk for hypertension, cardiac problems, and severely reduced kidney function, kidney disease and kidney failure due to her donation. She may suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD as a result of her experience.

The problem is that everyone in regards to transplants are framed in terms of the recipient. If the graft sticks and the recipient is discharged, the process is deemed a success. No one considered the fate of the donor, immediately, short-term or (even worse) long-term. Hell, UNOS loses 40 of living donors 6 months post-surgery; we have no idea what happens to these people, and the transplant centers distance themselves from living donors as soon as possible, providing no aftercare and siphoning them off on their primary care physicians.

Daniel Huffman donated a kidney to his grandmother when he was 17 years old. He put a bullet in head a few years later. Everyone considered his donation to be ‘successful’ too.

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