Monday, November 22, 2004
Not surprisingly, the United Network for Organ Sharing "is asking hospitals to discourage patients from advertising for donors and, if possible, to refuse to perform transplants that arise from these campaigns" (Newsday, Nov. 19). As UNOS explained in its press release, "Most deceased organ donation takes place anonymously through the national organ distribution system. At times donors or donor families want to donate to a specific person they know, and we support that. But we strongly oppose public or private appeals that effectively put the needs of one candidate above all others and pose concerns of fairness. Transplant candidates rely on the public's trust in the fairness of the allocation system and support of that system through donation. Public appeals may jeopardize that trust."
The UNOS board was responding to news reports that "a Houston man, Todd Krampitz, bought a pair of billboards and gave a series of media interviews soliciting a liver donor. It worked: Someone died, and the person's family had heard about Krampitz and opted to donate directly to him.
"Normally, when people die their organs go to whomever is at the top of the waiting list, determined by many factors including who would obtain the greatest medical benefit from a transplant, who would die soonest without one, the locations of the patient and donor.
"'There's integrity to that. That process is public, it's transparent, it's accountable,' said Dr. Mark Fox, chairman of the network's ethics committee."