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Living Donor Protections Living Kidney Donor Organ Markets

US transplant ‘dont ask, dont tell’ policy permits organ trafficking

On Tuesday, Dan Rather’s Kidney Pirates premiered on HDNet.

Here’s a bit from the transcript of the show, in regards to illegal organ trafficking in the U.S. (don’t forget the NJ arrests over the summer):
[emphasis mine]

ART CAPLAN (bioethicist, U of Penn, columnist MSNBC, author, activist):
I don’t want to believe that some of our finest and best institutions would be involved in exploitation…in what I consider human rights abuses…in what I consider racketeering…, but I fear some of them are. I think that you can justify it by saying I’ve got people dying and my job is to them. Whatever it takes to get them better, that’s what I do. I don’t accept that as an ethic but I think that’s partly how they might justify it.

RATHER
But no U.S physician I know would do this.

CAPLAN
Well, American doctors kind of wind up getting away with this because they don’t look very hard. What I mean by that is if you meet your donor on the web and you’re a transplant center doc, you wind up saying, you know I’m glad you’re here Dan and I’m glad you want to give your kidney to Art. Now is it really true that you want to give your kidney to Art? And you would say, ummm hmmm –Well, that’s good enough for me then I’m not going to ask any further questions.

RATHER
Don’t ask, don’t tell?

CAPLAN
Don’t ask don’t tell. You’re basically not going to push, and why wouldn’t you push? It’s because you want the business, we don’t have enough organs around and you’ve got people waiting to get them and you make money, significant amounts of money by doing the transplants.

RATHER
But surely they can’t do it, or do they, in hospitals? No hospital would put up with this.

CAPLAN
No, they do it inside hospitals.

RATHER:
WE LOOKED INTO TWO CASES WHERE TRAFFICKED KIDNEYS WERE ALLEGEDLY TRANSPLANTED BY AMERICAN DOCTORS, IN AMERICAN HOSPITALS. WE COULD NOT INDEPENDENTLY CONFIRM THE
ALLEGATIONS — MANY OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED, INCLUDING THE HOSPITALS, REFUSED TO SPEAK ON CAMERA. BUT SCHEPER-HUGHES TOLD ME SHE HAD FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE OF TWO RECENT CASES AT WELL-KNOWN AMERICAN HOSPITALS – INCLUDING ONE IN LOS ANGELES THAT SHE SAYS SHE WITNESSED HERSELF AFTER BEING TIPPED OFF BY AN INFORMANT.

NANCY SCHEPER-HUGHES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY ANTHROPOLOGIST:
There was a purchase online through Craig’s list and two people present themselves. You know, one is Asian, you know one is Anglo and they don’t really know each other at all. In fact, they are very nervous about each other… they have not even I would say, a cockamamie story… and they…

RATHER
And they went through.

SCHEPER-HUGHES
And they went through without any problem, and twenty-five thousands dollars went through an elevator that was carried up by the member of the extended family and the money was paid, I believe in a hallway or I believe it was a bathroom behind the surgical unit.

RATHER (ON CAMERA)
SCHEPER-HUGHES SAYS THIS TOOK PLACE AT THE RENOWNED LOS ANGELES’ HOSPITAL CEDARS-SINAI. WE REACHED OUT TO THE HOSPITAL TO HEAR THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY. IN A FOLLOW UP EMAIL, WE ALSO ASKED A CEDARS SPOKESWOMAN SEVERAL GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE HOSPITAL SCREENS DONORS. BUT THE SPOKESWOMAN DECLINED TO RESPOND, CITING PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY RULES, AND INSTEAD ISSUED A STATEMENT THAT SAID, QUOTE: “IF AT ANY TIME DURING THE EVALUATION PROCESS THE TRANSPLANT TEAM SUSPECTS THE DONOR IS INAPPROPRIATELY BEING PAID FOR A KIDNEY, THE TRANSPLANT IS CANCELLED.” NO ONE HAS ALLEGED CEDARS DOCTORS BROKE THE LAW, WERE PART OF THE TRANSACTION, OR WERE AWARE THE KIDNEY HAD BEEN PURCHASED — BUT SCHEPER-HUGHES SAYS THAT THEY COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB SCREENING.

THEN THERE’S THE CASE OF NICK ROSEN… A FEW YEARS AGO, THE ISRAELI MAN SENT SCHEPER-HUGHES A HOMEMADE VIDEOTAPE THAT DOCUMENTED HIM GIVING ONE OF HIS KIDNEYS TO A STRANGER FOR TRANSPLANT. ROSEN SAYS HE WAS MATCHED WITH THE RECIPIENT, A LONG ISLAND MAN, THROUGH AN ISRAELI TRAFFICKER. THE TRANSPLANT TOOK PLACE AT MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL IN NEW YORK. ROSEN SAYS HE RECEIVED $20,000 AFTERWARDS. IN A TELEPHONE INTERVIEW, ROSEN TOLD US HE SIMPLY WANTED TO SAVE A STRANGER’S LIFE. THE RECIPIENT DIDN’T RESPOND TO SEVERAL REQUESTS FOR AN INTERVIEW WE MADE TO HIS WIFE. A MOUNT SINAI SPOKESMAN ALSO DECLINED TO COMMENT.

RATHER
Do they have any legal obligations?

CAPLAN
They don’t really have a legal obligation right now because we haven’t established a clear standard of care in the U.S. about how to deal with donors who may be sellers.

One reply on “US transplant ‘dont ask, dont tell’ policy permits organ trafficking”

Most people had never heard of this black market until last summer's arrest of a Brooklyn man charged with trafficking in kidneys – the first case of its kind in the U.S.

Quote by Elie Wiesel
"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented".

Dan Rather and Nancy Scheper-Hughes have taken on a story that has not been "told like it is" since a New York Daily News article came out on July 25, 2009.

Shame on the evil people exposed in this story. RAMPANT GREED (Money=God) is THE number one problem in our world today. Money is truly the root of all evil.

"Live simply, so others can simply live".

The trial of Rabbi Levy Rosenbaum is set for 3/8/2010.

Thank you DAN RATHER

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