Campus Talk – SUNY Brockport
Maria Kinsley, Editor in Chief
October _, 2006
More than 92,000 people in the United States are waiting for an organ transplant, according to the New York Organ Donor Network’s Web site at www.donatelifeny.org. About 60 percent will die before a matching donor is found.
The demand for organs far exceeds the supply. The National Organ Transplant Act, passed by Congress in 1984, charged the United Network for Organ Sharing with establishing a system to allocate organs fairly to those most in need.
The UNOS system, known as the “waiting list,” is not working efficiently. People typically wait three to seven years for a transplant; more than half die before receiving it and the wait is growing, according to the June 2006 AARP Bulletin. New ways to increase the number of donors must be found.
One debate is whether people should be permitted to solicit donations from strangers to enhance their opportunity to receive an organ sooner. People for soliciting donation argue that it is right to allow the individual to do everything she can to ensure she receives a transplant. People against this method say it is unfair for someone to bypass the list that was created to ensure the person who needs the organ most gets it soonest.
However, under the current system the waiting time is increasing. Therefore, it seems right to let someone solicit a donor and bypass the list so the people on the list below them can be moved up, allowing more transplants to be carried out in the long term.
I believe people who need a transplant should be able to advertise. People shouldn’t be required to sit idly on a list, while their health deteriorates, with no guarantee they’ll ever receive a transplant. If I was in need of an organ, or someone I knew needed one, I would want to be allowed to do whatever I could to find a donor. People advertising their need will raise awareness of the organ shortage crisis.
Perhaps the most salient argument against soliciting donations from strangers is that people will try to sell organs. No matter what preventative measures are taken, people can arrange to sell organs if they really want to. They can claim the donor is a friend when they’re not and write a check once the transplant is completed. By allowing people to solicit voluntary donors, fewer people might feel pressured to resort to selling organs.
Some hospitals have policies that don’t allow patients to receive living donations from strangers. However, many of these policies are under debate and recent news implies they might be changing.
In September, Paul Cardinale of Jamestown received a kidney from Alaska resident William Thomas, according to Kaleida Health News Web site at www.kaleidahealth.org. They met online through www.matchingdonors.com, a site where people who need donations post profiles. The transplant is the first in Western New York to be set up between strangers via the Internet. Prior to Cardinale’s surgery, Buffalo General Hospital’s policy stated that Internet or media-driven transplantation wasn’t allowed. However, the policy was expanded to include “altruistic, voluntary samaritan” donations set up via the Internet or media, allowing Cardinale’s transplant.
If you’d like to become an organ donor after death, sign the anatomical gift section on the back of your license and inform your family; they may be asked to give consent. For information about becoming an organ donor go to Donate Life at www.organdonor.gov. If you’re curious about living organ donation visit Transplant Living at www.transplantliving.org.