Monday, October 31, 2011

Kidney exchange--gaps in financing

Here's a disturbing editorial from the Globe and Mail, published Oct. 26, 2011. It represents one of the (many) gaps in financing that reflect the growth pangs of kidney exchange. This and other more systematic financial issues need to be resolved if kidney exchange (also called kidney paired donation or, in Canada apparently, kidney swaps) is to stabilize and reach its full potential as a treatment option. In this case an altruistic donor has been left without proper care.

Help the life-giver left with the disfigured body

"Donating a kidney to a stranger is an act of love – and of life. It allows a sick person to become healthy again, and saves the medical system $50,000 a year.

"There is inherent risk in all surgery, but donors assume that, if something goes wrong, the system will take care of them.

"However, that is not what happened to a man from British Columbia who donated his kidney to an anonymous recipient in Toronto in 2009, as part of an innovative new “kidney swap” program. He ended up with a bulge on the left side of his abdomen caused by a pinched nerve during surgery. “Every time I look down, I see this big flap of skin. The nerve that contracts the muscle was cut, which means that the area is flabby and lopsided,” he says. He has tried for two years to get B.C. Health to pay for the surgery to correct his asymmetrical abdomen; the ministry has refused, however, saying the $10,000 operation would be cosmetic. The Ontario hospital where he donated his kidney says it can't help him either."

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