Ethical Considerations Living Donor Misinformation Organ Markets

Postrel’s At It Again – Promoting Living Donation and Forgetting the Donors

On one hand, I suppose I should Virginia Postrel credit for getting paid by national magazines to say the same thing over and over again. But on the other, her constant refrain of “functioning kidneys for all” is incredibly annoying (and simplistic, but that’s a post for a different time)

Here it is, another article in “the atlantic” (Hey, I wonder if they’d let me write a similar article on all the damaged and disenfranchised living donors out there?), and here is the comment I just left, copied here for your reading pleasure:

“Living donation is a low-risk procedure for the donor that offers life-changing rewards for the recipient”

While I’m glad that Postrel and the other living kidney donors mentioned in this article haven’t, as of yet, suffered any ill effects of donating, her above statement is total horse pucky and she knows it.

According to OPTN’s own data, 4.4 living kidney donors die in the US every year within 12 months of donation.

20% suffer physical complications: nerve damage, pancreatitis, adrenal dysfunction, testicular swelling and sensitivity, chylous ascites, intestinal blockage, organ laceration, etc. etc.

20-30% experience depression, anxiety, anger, PTSD, financial and other psychosocial consequences. Meanwhile, not a single transplant center offers support services or resources to LDs.

A joint-surgical consensus document recently stated that there is NO empirical evidence on the ‘best’ way to evaluate the prospective living kidney donor. In fact there are NO national standards of evaluation, selection, or treatment for living donors at all.

Over 300 living kidney donors have been waitlisted in need of their own kidney transplant since 1994. We have no idea about any living donor prior to that year because no one bothered to collect any identifying info on them before then (so 40 yrs of lost LKDs).

There is NO long-term data on living donors health and well-being. The Ibrahim and Segev articles have been touted as ‘proof’ of long-term safety but both are painfully flawed and neither draws the conclusion the media and industry hopes they do.

TRANSPLANTS ARE NOT CURES. The vast majority of recipients will need multiple transplants to achieve a ‘normal’ lifespan.

The average age of end-stage renal disease onset is 64.4 years. The growing ‘need’ is a result of our aging population. And the biggest reason for kidney failure – diabetes.

The ONLY way supply will ever begin to meet demand is if the US provides adequate access to health care geared toward the early prevention and treatment of diabetes and kidney disease. Of course, that’s not as newsworthy as organ swaps or chains.

Every study done in a country (pakistan, india, etc) with legal or illegal kidney sales has the same conclusion: the kidney donor/vendor suffers increased health problems, greater financial difficulties, and a reduced quality of life post-donation (years after). Offering incentives benefits the recipient, the surgeon, and the transplant industry – everyone EXCEPT the person relinquishing the organ. The living public deserves to be treated as more than walking organ incubators.

See for references to every statement made in this post.

[PS. Some day I’m going to create a template of standard responses to these sorts of articles. Would save me a lot of typing time]

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