Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why be an organ donor?

In a North Shore Sunday column, Daniel B. Kline writes: "What I can't understand is the millions of people who support organ donation, but aren't donors. Maybe they forget, maybe they just can't be bothered..."

I think he's right about the reasons. The vast majority of people don't have any good reason for not signing up as organ donors. On the other hand, there's no down side to delaying or forgetting.

The biggest reason to sign up as an organ donor is the chance to help others. Sadly, that's not enough of a motivator for a whole lot of people. So every year, thousands of organs that could have saved lives are buried or cremated instead.

With LifeSharers, there's another reason to sign up as an organ donor -- the chance to help yourself. You give up your organs after you're dead, and you get a better chance of receiving an organ if you ever need one to live.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

A federal organ grab without consent?

Sigfrid Fry-Revere of the Cato Institute writes in the New York Post on November 2nd:

...the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation is expected to recommend that states adopt policies of "presumed consent" for organ donation.

In other words, authorities could harvest organs from your dead body without prior permission from you or your family.

If the government is really concerned with getting donor organs, it shouldn't rationalize stealing them, it should amend the National Organ Transplant Act to give people incentives for donating them.

The situation is dire. Some 93,000 Americans are now on the list to receive donated organs; last year, fewer than half got them. Twenty Americans die every day waiting for an organ that never comes.

No one seems to doubt that paying people to donate their organs after they die would dramatically increase the number of organs available - but government bodies hesitate to allow it.

Presumed consent would increase the number of organs available for transplantation. So would paying people for their organs. But neither of these is legal, and it's extremely unlikely that either will be legalized in the forseeable future. Both are total non-starters from a political standpoint because both face substantial nationwide opposition.

The LifeSharers incentive is already legal. It is also less controversial than paying for organs or taking them without consent.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rationing life

Today's Los Angeles Times has a story about the agonizing decisions surgeons and hospitals have to make in allocating kidneys for transplant operations. These decisions can mean life or death for patients -- life for the patient who gets the kidney, and death for the one who doesn't.

Many of these decisions would be unnecessary if Americans weren't burying or cremating 10,000 transplantable kidneys every year. What can be done about this? The United Network for Organ Sharing, which sets national organ allocation rules, has the power to make a simple policy change that would eliminate most of this horrific waste of life-saving organs.

UNOS should announce that it will move registered organ donors to the front of the transplant waiting list, and that it will move those who are not registered to the back.

This announcement would cause millions of Americans to register as organ donors. Given that most people on the transplant waiting list die waiting, the vast majority of Americans would decide that registering is a good idea. Almost everyone in the United States supports organ donation, but most people haven't registered. UNOS can provide the kick in the pants that many Americans apparently need.

According to the Los Angeles Times, over the last decade the number of people waiting for kidneys nationwide has more than doubled to about 68,500 and could reach 100,000 by 2010. If UNOS put registered organ donors first on the waiting list it could save thousands of lives every year. How many more people will die needlessly before UNOS makes this simple policy change?

In the mean time, LifeSharers offers Americans the opportunity to donate their organs to other registered organ donors. Please tell your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues about LifeSharers. You could save someone's life, and the life you save could be your own or someone very dear to you.

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