Thursday, September 16, 2004

Avoiding "chaos" vs. saving lives

In an article in today's Houston Chronicle, medicial ethicist Arthur Caplan calls for Congress or the United Network for Organ Sharing to disallow directed organ donations except among family members.

Professor Caplan wants to disallow directed organ donations because if they take off they'll cause "chaos". But he also acknowledges that appeals for directed donation may ease the organ shortage.

Easing the organ shortage means saving lives. How can avoiding "chaos" be more important than saving lives? That's an argument only an expert can love.

LifeSharers uses directed donation to reduce the organ shortage. As practiced by LifeSharers, directed donation is legal under federal law and under the laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. If Dr. Caplan has his way, you won't be able to direct your organ donation gift to fellow organ donors, friends, or neighbors. That may avoid "chaos", but it will kill people.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Researchers want to stop life-saving organ donations

Through a process called list-paired exchange, a person waiting for a kidney transplant gets a higher priority on the waiting list for an organ from a deceased donor when a relative makes a living donation to the waiting list. The living donor is not able to donate to his relative, usually because of blood type incompatibilities, so the willing donor gives his kidney to an unknown person on the waiting list.

List-paired exchanges save lives. Someone on the waiting gets a kidney. The donor's relative gets higher priority on the next matching kidney.

But some "researchers" don't think this is fair! Why? Because list-paired exchanges help people with certain blood types more than people with other blood types. Fewer people die overall, but more people with blood type O die. (For details go here.)

These "researchers" want to prohibit people from donating kidneys that they can't donate to relatives, if their relatives have blood type O. So if you wanted to help your brother get a kidney by giving one of your kidneys to a stranger, they would stop you if your brother's blood type is O.

This is arrogance on the grandest scale. Their proposal stop people from saving lives if their blood types weren't the right ones. And it would kill people in the name of fairness.

The goal of our organ donation system should be to save lives, not to spread deaths equally among groups. LifeSharers helps save lives by increasing the number of organ donors.

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Distrust of the organ donation system

According to an Associated Press report distrust of doctors is one of the reasons for low organ donation rates among blacks. The report cites statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which say that blacks make up 27% of the waiting list for organ donations but only 12% of organ donors.

One way to increase trust in the organ donation system is to give donors more control over who gets their organs. LifeSharers does that, by helping people direct their organs to fellow organ donors.

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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Who deserves an organ transplant?

According to an article in today's Chicago Sun-Times, "From May 2002 to April 2004, 48 Illinois families refused to let organs be taken from the bodies of family members, even though their loved ones had registered as organ donors before they died. Each donor supplies an average of four organs, so these 48 vetoes meant nearly 200 fewer organs were available for transplants."

These vetoes also killed nearly 200 people.

Do the people who prevented their relatives' organs from being transplanted deserve to get an organ transplant if they ever need one? No, they don't. Not as long as there aren't enough organs to go around.

If one of those people got an organ that you or a loved one needed you'd be justifiably outraged.

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