Online organ linkups spur debate, alarm

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by wdlove, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #1
    Two weeks ago at the University of Colorado Medical center an unusual transplant was performed. The patient went to a Massachusetts based matchingdonor.com, he found a person willing to donate a kidney to him. At first the surgeon was reluctant, but he got permission from the hospital.

    Currently there is a nationwide organized approach to getting organs, called UNOS. It is a high government regulated organization. Sometimes people are on a wait list for years waiting for an organ.

    Now a Donald Huttner needs a kidney. He went on the internet chat room. within 30 minutes he found a lady willing to donate her kidney. When approaching the same surgeon he refused because of the unorthodox approach. The hospital claims ethical grounds. He is in a catch 22 situation. This is causing a national debate.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/12/03/online_organ_linkups_spur_debate_alarm/
     
  2. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #2
    People who need a transplant can't be blamed for looking for ways to beat the system. Under a national (or international) system, high-in-demand organs go to the person with the right balance of time-waited, locality (so organ transportation time and risks are minimized), prognosis without a transplant, and prognosis with a transplant. If organs instead go to those who have special connections or present themselves best on the Internet, then the well-connected, rich, or most Internet-saavy people will get them even when somebody else is next in line or more needy, deserving, or a better match for the organ. When it's your life on the line, you may not care about this, but I think the common good is better served by an orderly system that matches donors to recipients without their own solicitations.

    Ethics departments at hospitals have long had their work cut out for them. Organ donations by sibling, parents, or children are usually considered acceptable in cases where a stranger would not be. What if it was your friend or next door neighbor? At what point does it go over the line to the extreme case of placing your own ads to find a donor? I'm glad I'm not the one who has to decide these cases.
     
  3. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    Organ transplantation is a very difficult dilemma. There are just not enough organs available. Many die on the waiting list, a very heart wrenching situation. I can imagine that it happened personally, it would be willing to do what ever is available. That would be human nature. The current system is setup to be fair to everyone involved. Those that become critically ill are moved up on the list.

    I have taken care of several patients that have been family donors. It is an awesome gift.

    Finding organs on the internet could cause chaos. As with the person in the article that is a doctor. Those with money would get organs.
     
  4. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816

    broken_keyboard

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    #4
    I don't think it's unethical as long as everyone involved is a willing participant.
     
  5. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    #5
    We might get spam like,
    "Need a new kindey? We have thousands in stock!"
    :rolleyes:

    That was a joke, this is a major ethical problem and one I don't care to delve into....
     
  6. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    It's already true that the richest people are most likely to get the best medical care most of the time, since they tend to have the best employer insurance plans and the best ability to pay for other medical services themselves. But this (organ dealing) would make it worse. And another dilemma - if a 20-year-old, 40-year-old, and 60-year-old are all waiting for an organ, should age be a factor in deciding who has first priority? The 20-year-old is more likely to be healthiest and therefore might last longer while waiting, but he's got the longest amount of potential life at risk.

    Getting the word out that people should carry around a "donate my organs" card with their driver's license, if they are willing to do so, is important. Either that or hope we evolve into having spares of each organ.
     
  7. FelixDerKater macrumors 68000

    FelixDerKater

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    I don't see an ethical problem as long as payment is not involved in the transfer of organs.
     
  8. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    #8
    But some religion's don't look too highly at this...

    What does an E.R. doctor call a speeding motorcyclist?
    A donorcycle!

    Why?
    Because once they hit that curve wrong, only a few parts are left salvageable.......... nice thoughts, eh?
     
  9. dotnina macrumors 6502a

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    This can't be an ethically correct practice, since it assumes that everyone has access to the internet and that everyone has knowledge about these organ swapping sites. Some people don't know how to use computers, much less how to access the internet and find out about this kind of thing.

    While I'm always one for "people helping people," I don't think this practice should be encouraged. Unfortunately, I don't think you'd be able to ban this without stomping on people's rights, so this sort of thing will probably continue to happen ... a shame, really.
     
  10. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    So far a curb on this practice off the internet is the transplant surgeons and ethics committee's at hospitals. It is now legal for a donor to receive compensation for expenses. Already overseas organs are being sold. The internet could lead to cash for organs also. So the poor are most like to sell their organs. When complications occur it will be taxpayers that will foot the bill. When organs are in such supply, I think that the best way is the current one. It is fair to all regardless of your status in life. If research goes well stem cells, then in the future they will be able to produce organs in the lab.
     
  11. Apple Hobo macrumors 6502a

    Apple Hobo

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    #11
    How about eBay?

    L@@K! Rare Vintage Kidney New!!!!11

    Up for auction is a genuine kidney! Only used once, bidding starts at $0.99, cash/check/money order accepted...prefer PayPal.
     
  12. Peyote macrumors 6502a

    Peyote

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    A person's income or medical insurance plan has nothing to do with the chances of them getting an organ. My Father in law is waiting for a kidney right now. He has practically no money, but has already almost received an organ. He actually went into the hospital when a kidney becamse available, but an emergency operation at the hospital meant that all the operating rooms were being used, so the kidney went to someone else.

    Age already plays a factor into getting an organ. The criteria is mostly need based, not so much based on how many years you'll enjoy the kidney, because a 60 year old diabetic on dialysis may only have a few years left before he's at a higher risk than most for not lasting. Since most patients end up waiting 1-3 years for an organ, the 40 year old on dialysis can afford to wait longer than the 60 year old.
     
  13. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    That must be really tough, having your hopes up and then being disappointed like that. I sure hope he gets another chance. And soon.
     
  14. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    Thank you for sharing your story Peyote. That is exactly why our current system needs to be maintained, so that it can be fair for the majority. I pray that yoru father-in-law will recieve a kidney soon.
     
  15. Peyote macrumors 6502a

    Peyote

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    Thanks...we all feel better about it now than before....at least we know he's at the top of the list.
     
  16. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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  17. lsylvester macrumors newbie

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    I just wanted to reply to some of the posts on this thread. I am the donor for Donald Huttner, whom some of you have mentioned. I can't believe that some of you think that the fact that he was a physician is why he found a potential donor so quickly. I linked up with him for a couple of reasons. The first is that I used to work in the operating room on a transplant team. We do share a bond due to our former occupations. We also both now work in the mortgage industry. This is the only reason we initially talked...just a lot in common. It has absolutely nothing to do with money as some of you have indicated. I would have done this for anyone, whether they had a dime or not!! Occupation was just the first thing we had in common. I hope that some of you will see that some people who volunteer to do this do it out of the goodness of their heart...no monetary gain is wanted, or expected!!
     
  18. wdlove thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #18
    I applaud your beneficence in the donation of an organ. In your case it was as close to being family as one could without being related. I haven't donated like you have. But I have done some volunteering without monetary gain. What you have done is an awesome thing which is in the true spirit of caring for another human. I do hope that you medical expenses were taken care of though.
     
  19. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    Thanks for posting. I greatly admire you for helping somebody the way you did. We've been discussing the pros, cons, and problems of organ matchup on the Internet in general, not just Dr. Huttner's case, and I don't think any of us assumed that you offered your help with a profit motive in mind. You saw somebody worse off than you, and you did something heroic. We'd all learn a lot from your first-hand perspective if you'd care to post again and tell us more.

    To everyone: I urge those who are eligible to register for the National Marrow Donor Program. If they match you to a patient who needs a marrow or stem cell transplant, you may be able to save their life by giving something without losing anything. Marrow and stem cells regenerate in your body all the time, and people who cannot generate their own good blood cells can be saved by yours. I registered with the NMDP about 7 years ago, but I have yet to match anyone. I would gladly help anybody they match me with. More details about joining are here.
     

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