Organ Markets

Article on Paying for Kidneys – Right on Time

I can’t be blamed. My prior post is dated June 3 and this article appeared two days later.

From the Denver Post: Long Waits for Organ Transplants Have More Pondering Payments to Donors.

Clearly I don’t have to explain my opinion on this topic, but I thought I’d share a couple precious nuggets from this little piece.

“It’s time to loosen these restrictions in order to save lives,” said Dr. Arthur Matas, a leading transplant surgeon in Minnesota and advocate of an organ compensation system. Such arrangements are illegal under federal law.

University of Minnesota, where Matas is a surgeon, is also the origin of the oft-misquoted and highly flawed study “Long Term Consequences of Kidney Donors”. The authors (Matas included) sent self-reports to U of Minn’s LKDs, 40% of which declined to participate, then conducted physical exams on 255 of their LKDs (out of 3700, a mere 6.9%), yet sent press releases far and wide proclaiming that living kidney donors suffer no ill long-term effects nor a shortened lifespan. Unfortunately, media types have so far failed to look beyond the marketing spin.

U of Minnesota is also the new contractor for SRTR, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, who keeps and analyzes national transplant-related data. What will their surgeons’ attitude mean for neutrality and federal policy recommendations?

Frustration with the lists, and growing reports of wealthy Americans buying kidneys from poor overseas donors, has risen to an ethical turning point for doctors like Igal Kam, chief of University of Colorado Hospital’s transplant surgery.

Kam supports compensation and hopes enough medical professionals will sign on to give the idea momentum for the necessary act of Congress.

“It’s our job to maximize donors,” Kam said. “So we as a society need to look at how to create compensation for the donor families.”

It’s good to know U of Colorado surgeons believe their job is to obtain organs for recipients, the health and protection of living donors be damned. Of course, this is same facility where liver donor Ryan Arnold died last August so I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.

There was one small bright spot in an otherwise very skewed article. Danovitch, whom I quoted in my last post, had this to say:

People willing to buy and sell organs are much more likely to lie about their health and have infections or other problems, Danovitch said. As for the proposed list of “incentives,” he said, “Do you want to live in a country where a poor person who wants health insurance has to give up a kidney?”