[Note: This entry was actually written in Sep 2009. I changed the posting date to keep my blog entries in chronological order.]
Today’s Wall St. J. has an article (subscription required) that explains that donating a kidney to a stranger is not easy. It cites survey results from a study published in the October 2007 Amer. J. of Transpl. that show that of the 132 transplant centers that responded, only 80 (61%) allow nondirected stranger transplants (the kind I am seeking) and only 39 (30%) allow directed stranger transplants.
The bias against stranger donations may affect the policies promoted by the United Network for Organ Sharing (which allocates all the organs in the U.S.). The president of UNOS, who is a transplant surgeon, is quoted in the article as saying:
“If someone really wants to help society, they can go work in a soup kitchen, they can join the Peace Corps, they can do a lot of things that don’t put their lives at risk or implicate a [transplant] center,”
I knew altruistic donations were rare. I had no idea that they were controversial and that leaders in the transplant community were against them. I hope this doesn’t hurt my ability to donate a kidney.
[Update1: The UNOS position has changed since this article was published. It no longer actively opposes organizations that recruit live donors like the National Kidney Registry, Alliance for Paired Donations, or MatchingDonors. However, it does not endorse them either. I’ll have more on the ethical dilemma posed by live organ donations in a future blog post.]
[Update2: Corrected a date error. I’ve also found a free version of the WSJ article at Kidney Chronicles.]