The first I'll mention is a March 13 blog post from Kenneth A. Newell, the president of the American Society for Transplantation: Why all the talk about incentives?
Here's his whole post:
Next, the open letter linked and excerpted below, is from the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group and signed by many prominent opponents of compensation to donors: the first signer is Frank Delmonico.
An Open Letter to HHS Secretary Burwell on Ethically Increasing Organ Donation
"In 1984, Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA). That statute not only established the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network but also enshrined in law a principle that had guided the development of organ transplantation worldwide over the previous 30 years: organs from living and deceased donors are precious gifts, and should not be bought and sold as market commodities.
Remove the Obstacles to Donation
The growing demand for transplants currently exceeds the supply of donated organs. In the previous decade, a collaborative effort among the Department of Health and Human Services, organ procurement organizations, physicians, and community groups produced a 25% increase in the number of deceased donor organs. Yet, over the course of the past ten years in the United States, the number of kidney transplants (which account for more than two thirds of all transplants) made possible by living donors has declined by approximately by a thousand.One major reason for this decline is that living donors in the United States incur on average more than U.S. $6000 in out-of-pocket costs. Potential donors may not be able to afford these expenses and may either be unaware of, or not meet the strict requirements for, programs that cover some but not all of donors' financial costs and losses.If the United States wants to increase organ donation, we should begin by removing these financial disincentives. We are aware that some people have recently called on the President and Congress to repeal, or at least suspend, NOTA's prohibition on paying organ donors. However, when it looked at “Ways to Reduce the Kidney Shortage” (September 2, 2014), the New York Times rightly concluded that “there are lots of reforms that could be made without resorting to paying for kidneys.”
The post goes, on, you should read the whole thing, but here are the two concluding section heads:
Appoint a New Task Force on Organ Donation and Transplantation
Financial Incentives for Donation Would Violate Global Standards and Will Not Work
Below is a statement from an organization whose very name reflects the complicated politics: it is called STOP ORGAN TRAFFICKING NOW!, and it describes its goal as "Working to Remove Barriers to Living Donations". That is, it is an organization seeking to remove disincentives to donation, that wants to distinguish itself from black markets, and perhaps from those proposing compensation. (Forming coalitions is hard, and politics is incremental...)
The SOTN Proposal In Simplest Terms
"• Increase penalties for organ brokering at home and abroad.
• Follow original intent of NOTA and have Medicare help patients in greatest medical need first and according to UNOS current wait list criteria by:
(a) paying expenses of donors willing to give to top match in their region, and
(b) paying the Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs), which currently match deceased donor organs with recipients, to arrange living matches as well.
• Allow 501(c)(3) public charities (and recipients themselves) to cover all donation related expenses – The same expenses that currently can be deducted from state income taxes at the state level. Charities can help any donor, not just those giving to front of the list.
• Create living donor registry that puts donor AND one relative to the front of the list at any time donor chooses."
Finally, I'm keeping an eye on a newly formed organization called Waitlist Zero, in part because its co-founder and executive director is Josh Morrison, a young lawyer and kidney donor (who thinks of kidney donation as an example of effective altruism), with whom I had the privilege to work when he was the general counsel at the Alliance for Paired Donation (Mike Rees' kidney exchange organization).
Here is their statement of goals, principles and policies:
- Publicly support the goal of increasing living kidney donation;
- Allow grant funding, including that pursuant to 42 U.S. Code §274f–1(b), to go to projects intended to increase living kidney donation;
- Allocate such funds in rough parity between living and deceased donation projects; and
- Include metrics and goals related to the increase of living donation on HRSA’s FY 2016 Annual Performance Report.
- Deceased donation alone can never end the deadly kidney shortage, and any policy that takes that shortage as given is morally unacceptable.
- Living donation is a noble choice that is not right for everyone, but donors themselves can benefit from the better health of their loved ones and the psychic gains to donation. Since studies show the vast majority of living donors do not regret donating, federal policy should presume donation to be a positive choice worth promoting.
- Informed consent must be maintained for every kidney transplant. Any effort to coerce or pressure someone into donating is unacceptable.
- Improvements are always possible, but the current transplant system does an excellent job of ensuring informed consent for the thousands of living donors who give each year.
- Government programs to increase living donation should not and will not impinge on the ability of transplant centers to ensure informed consent and guarantee the absence of coercion.
- Donors should not be worse off for having donated. Government should: (1) guarantee the reimbursement of donor lost wages, (2) provide health insurance coverage to alleviate risks of donation, and (3) devote appropriate resources to ensure long-term donor follow-up.
- Transplant awareness and education should be increased for the public, patients, and patient families. All patients and patient families should receive comprehensive transplant education before they go on dialysis (when possible) and immediately thereafter (when necessary). Access to paired kidney donation should be universal.
- Members of the Coalition may have different views as to the advisability of incentives for living donation, but the Coalition believes there are many ways the federal government can increase living donation that do not raise the controversy of incentives, and this campaign is not intended to promote the adoption of incentives.
HT: Frank McCormick, et al.