About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us

Registry of Donors to Address Ethical Concerns Over Organ Donations

by Gopalan on September 5, 2007 at 12:17 PM
Registry of Donors to Address Ethical Concerns Over Organ Donations

Organ donations from living donors are looking up in the US. In 2004 and 2005, the number of such donations surpassed those from dead donors.

Many people risk surgery and the loss of an organ to save the lives of people they love and increasingly of strangers, as well.


In addition to a kidney and lobe of a liver, living donors can give the lobe of a lung and bone marrow. Almost half of all kidney donors in the United States are living donors, a total of 6,434 last year.

Living donors last year also provided lobes of the liver to 288 recipients and lobes of a lung to five recipients. Transplants between unrelated donors are now highly successful, thanks to improved methods of immune suppression that reduce the need for close tissue matching to prevent rejection.

But many problems can complicate transplants from live donors. It is important that potential donors know about them and take the time to resolve them before deciding whether to go ahead with a donation, which carries the potential for serious physical and emotional risks.

Dr. Robert D. Truog, professor of medical ethics and anesthesia at the Harvard Medical School, says, "The possibilities include personality or emotional disturbances like depression, self-esteem, an abnormal desire for attention or a desire to become involved in the recipient's life."

But when the motive is suspect, transplant teams are supposed to assess the reasons and prohibit donations that raise serious concerns.

Recently, there has been an increase in organ donations directed to strangers who may advertise their need for transplants through the news media, the Internet and even on billboards. Although there is nothing illegal about soliciting a donor organ, the practice is inherently unfair and raises the possibility of buying and selling organs, which the medical community considers highly unethical. Donated organs are considered a "gift of life," not a commodity to be bought and sold.

There is a national list of people awaiting transplants, and those who are the sickest, though rarely the wealthiest, are at the top. But when donations are directed to strangers, potential recipients "who have the most compelling stories and the means to advertise their plight tend to be the ones who get the organs, rather than those most in need," Dr. Truog said.

There are other possible wrinkles in donations directed to strangers. The donor may insist that the donation not go to a recipient of a particular race, religion or ethnic group. One case, in which a white brain-dead donor specified that his organs go just to white recipients, prompted Florida to pass a law prohibiting patients and families from restricting donations in this way.

Another case was less clear-cut. A Jewish man in New York learned of a Jewish child in Los Angeles who needed a kidney and said he would donate a kidney to help this child. This is clearly a discriminatory donation, even though it would enable those below the child on the transplant list to move up a notch. On the other hand, if the donation was not allowed, no one would benefit, because the man would not offer his kidney to anyone else.

Pressure is mounting to establish a national registry of live donors, people who were willing to donate organs to relatives or friends but were not good matches.

Through such a registry, patients anywhere in the country could "swap" one of their donors who is not a match for a donor who is. Such programs have the potential to increase significantly the donor pool and the success of transplants, because the surgery can be done before the patient is deathly ill.

In recent years, small donor exchange programs have been established by the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the New England Organ Bank and the Ohio Paired Donation Consortium.

Source: Medindia
Font : A-A+



Latest Organ Donation News

Be a Hero Even After Death : State Honors for Organ Donors in Tamilnadu
Tamilnadu to implement state honors for last rites of Organ Donors in the state- a welcome move
Second-Ever Pig Heart Transplant Rescues Ailing Patient in the U.S.
In a historic surgical achievement, U.S. medical professionals successfully transplanted a pig's heart into an end-stage cardiovascular disease patient.
Emotional Side of Neonatal Organ Donation
Groundbreaking study advocates neonatal kidney transplantation as the answer to the organ shortage crisis, shedding light on the challenges faced by families.
2 US Lung Transplant Patients Afflicted by Deadly Bacterial Infection
Two people in the US, who underwent lung transplantation, have been infected with a deadly bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
10,000 to Pledge Organ Donation on September 16
As per the Ministry, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will initiate the organ donation pledge at Agra's GIC Ground, UP.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close
Greetings! How can I assist you?MediBot

Registry of Donors to Address Ethical Concerns Over Organ Donations Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests