Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pope Francis on organ donation and organ trafficking

The Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG) requested an audience with Pope Francis: Pope Francis meets with DICG representatives
"The DICG delegation included Executive Director Professor Francis Delmonico, executive board member Dr Beatriz Dominguez-Gil, Dr Mirela Busic and Professor Mehmet Haberal, who supports the DICG through the Haberal Foundation. Professor Ignazio Marino, the Mayor of Rome, arranged the meeting at the request of the DICG.

A review of the global state of affairs in organ donation and transplantation was presented to the Pope, and the ongoing challenges of meeting needs for transplantation and preventing organ trafficking were discussed. DICG members expressed concern about recent proposals to introduce financial incentives for organ donation in the United States, particularly with regards to the potential influence of such proposals on policy and practice in developing countries most vulnerable to organ trafficking.

The importance of legal measures combatting organ trafficking, such as the recent Council of Europe Convention, was noted. The DICG also reported on recent successful progress in donation and transplantation in countries and regions such as Spain, Croatia, and Eastern Europe, and the importance of eliminating barriers to organ donation, for example through measures to remove or reimburse costs associated with living kidney donation.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Pope Francis expressed his conviction that "organ trafficking and commercialization are immoral".

Here's some other coverage of that meeting:

Pope calls for more people to donate organs – Rome mayor
"“The pope authorised me to say that in his view organ donation through generosity must be encouraged, but the commercial use of organs is immoral,” mayor Ignazio Marino said, after meeting with Francis on Friday.
“We need to explain that donating organs is a gesture of love. Each of us, for example, has two kidneys, and giving one of them to a relative or a person we love is a beautiful gesture. Entering into the spiral of trade and sales is a crime,” the pope said, according to Marino.
The meeting with Marino and a world delegation of transplant experts came as the United States debates whether or not to introduce financial incentives for organ donation, which could include reimbursing costs of travel for donors and lost wages, as well as providing long term health insurance.
Lengthy waiting lists, with thousands dying through a lack of organs, have lead some in the US to suggest the market for human organs should be legalized.
The Buenos Aires pope slammed those who profit from the poor to traffic organs, saying he had seen “many Argentine children with long scars on their backs because their families had sold one of their kidneys,” Marino said.
“Exploiting the poverty of a mother who sells a kidney to feed her children, for a few hundred euros (dollars), with that kidney then trafficked and sold on for hundreds of thousands of euros, that is a crime,” he said.
The Holy See did not publish a transcript of the audience."

and from the Vatican news service:
Pope Francis meets a group of transplant surgeons; including the mayor of Rome
"Pope Francis met on Friday morning with the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, who was accompanied by a group of surgeons who specialize in organ transplants.  The mayor is a transplant surgeon himself, and trained at the Transplant Centre of the University of Cambridge and the University of Pittsburgh's Starzl Transplantation Institute.
"No statement was released by the Holy See Press Office after the meeting with the Holy Father, but Marino spoke about his conversation with Pope Francis.
“The Pope did not mince his words,” Marino told journalists. “"He has authorized us to say publicly  that we need to encourage the donation of organs out of compassion, but the trade in organs is immoral and a crime against humanity.”

For background, here are all my many posts related to compensation for donors, including this one perhaps reflecting the American proposals that the DICG is concerned about:

Many groups are starting to advocate experiments on compensating organ donors 

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