Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Global kidney exchange and repugnance in the AJT: comments and replies

The forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Transplantation is going to have a number of conflicting views about Global Kidney Exchange (GKE).  Just as yesterday's post showed how Kidney Exchange faced some repugnance at the turn of this century, these interactions show that GKE will have to overcome some repugnance too. (I just returned from Geneva where I talked about GKE among other things, in an attempt to start bridging this divide.)

It all started with our article proposing GKE and reporting the case of a Philippine patient-donor pair, which came out in March, along with an accompanying editorial suggesting that maybe the whole idea is repugnant.

Here's the original article:

Kidney Exchange to Overcome Financial Barriers to Kidney Transplantation
by M. A. Rees, T. B. Dunn, C. S. Kuhr, C. L. Marsh, J. Rogers, S. E. Rees, A. Cicero, L. J. Reece, A. E. Roth, O. Ekwenna, D. E. Fumo, K. D. Krawiec, J. E. Kopke, S. Jain, M. Tan, S. R. Paloyo
American Journal of Transplantation, Volume 17, Issue 3 March 2017, Pages 782–790

And here's the accompanying editorial:
Walking a Tightrope or Blazing a Trail?
by A. C. Wiseman, J. S. Gill

Here is our forthcoming reply to the editorial
Global kidney exchange: Financially incompatible pairs are not transplantable compatible pairs
M. A. Rees, S. R. Paloyo, A. E. Roth, K. D. Krawiec, O. Ekwenna, C. L. Marsh, A. J. Wenig and T. B. Dunn
Version of Record online: 1 SEP 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/

And here is a letter saying that GKE is essentially organ trafficking…

Francis L. Delmonico and Nancy L. Ascher
Accepted manuscript online: 21 AUG 2017 09:05AM EST | DOI: 10.1111/ajt.14473
·        Abstract  Article  PDF(63K)

And our replies:

You have free access to this content
People should not be banned from transplantation only because of their country of origin
Alvin E. Roth, Kimberly D. Krawiec, Siegfredo Paloyo, Obi Ekwenna, Christopher L. Marsh, Alexandra J. Wenig, Ty B. Dunn and Michael A. Rees
Accepted manuscript online: 1 SEP 2017 09:25AM EST | DOI: 10.1111/ajt.14485

  1. You have free access to this content
    Open dialogue between professionals with different opinions builds the best policy
    Ignazio R. Marino, Alvin E. Roth, Michael A. Rees and Cataldo Doria
    Version of Record online: 11 SEP 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/ajt.14484
  2. Here's the text of the Roth et al. letter:

"Previously [1,2], we described how a Filipino husband-and-wife patient–donor pair were included in an American kidney exchange.1,2 Delmonico and Ascher object in the strongest terms.3 They write that ethical Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) with patient–donor pairs from the developing world “is not feasible when the culture is so experienced with organ sales.”

Among the proposers of GKE are experienced surgeons and clinicians, a senior lawyer, and a veteran market designer. We take black markets with the utmost seriousness. That’s why the first GKE pair was started with a husband and wife. We think the right course of action is to proceed carefully, slowly at first, and with constant monitoring. The second GKE pair from Mexico were cousins cared for by Dr. Ricardo Correa-Rotter, a world-renowned nephrologist and signatory of the Declaration of Istanbul.4,5

We also take seriously long-term postoperative care for both patients and donors. That’s why we propose GKE in partnership with developing countries that already have some first-rate hospitals that perform living donor transplantation. Rees et al. describe how we coordinated care with the Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center in Manila.2 We also provided an escrow fund for long-term continuing care. Ivan Carrillo describes our care of the donor and recipient in the second GKE and it is clearly celebrated by Mexican media as a beautiful way to help citizens of both Mexico and the United States.4,5

Kidney exchange (KE) itself is a relatively new “matching market,” of a kind that does not involve any payments to donors. It has been successfully launched in many countries, and proposals for international cooperation are underway.6 What makes KE special is that two or more patient–donor pairs help each other. What makes GKE special is that helping first-world patients get transplants saves money, because dialysis is so expensive, and these savings can benefit poor patients and donors in poor countries who would otherwise be unable to help themselves, but can participate in GKE for free.

Delmonico and Ascher propose that poor people with ESRD in poor countries, and the donors who love them, must all be regarded as potential criminals who would inevitably corrupt first-world medicine by being included in it. In the current political climate this is a bit like proposing a blanket ban on granting asylum to refugees from some countries. We do not adopt this point of view. On the contrary, GKE is a proposal that says there are many deserving patients who need our help, who we can help, and who can help us—if we invite them carefully and take care of them attentively.

Fear is not the path forward. Bold, careful innovation has led transplantation to where it is today, and remains our best collective future.

Disclosure The authors of this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to disclose as described by the American Journal of Transplantation.

1. Rees MA, Paloyo S, Roth AE, et al. Global Kidney Exchange: Financially Incompatible Pairs Are Not Transplantable Compatible Pairs. Am J Transplant. 2017;17:782-90.
2. Rees MA, Dunn TB, Kuhr CS, et al. Kidney Exchange to Overcome Financial Barriers to Kidney Transplantation. Am J Transplant 2017;17:782-90.
3. Delmonico FL, Ascher NL. Opposition to Irresponsible Global Kidney Exchange. Am J Transplant 2017;17:IN PRESS THIS ISSUE.
4. A bridge of life: Global kidney exchange between Mexico and the U.S. (Accessed 8/23/2017, at http://marketdesigner.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-bridge-of-life-global-kidney-exchange.html.)
5. Carrillo I. Un puente de vida (English Translation: A bridge of life). Newsweek en Español 2017 April 14, 2017:16-25.
6. Biró P, Burnapp L, Haase B, et al. Kidney Exchange Practices in Europe, First Handbook of the COST Action CA15210: European Network for Collaboration on Kidney Exchange Programmes (ENCKEP)2017.

Today I'm in D.C. at a meeting of NLDAC, the National Living Donor Assistance Center.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Al, first of all I would like to thank you for your interesting work and blog!
Apologies for not posting a comment strictly and specifically related to this post, but it is nonetheless related to repugnance. I would like to point out to you two potentially interesting posts by the economist Alex Tabarrok in the blog Marginal Revolution related to repugnance:

In Praise of Extreme Medicine -

Canada Imports Precious Bodily Fluids - http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/09/canada-imports-precious-bodily-fluids.html