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Dr Manny's Notes

Human Organs for Sale?

In a recent report out of Kosovo, two doctors have been accused of performing illegal organ transplants. Trafficking of illegal organs in unregulated countries is a major insult to the great need and international coordination for legitimate organ transplant programs around the world.

There are thousands of people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. alone. Here at home, one of the agencies - the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) - tries to maintain an active list of patients in need of organs, and to raise awareness of this need, encouraging Americans to become donors. Doctors are faced with many challenges in transplanting organs - mainly the intricate surgeries necessary to bring these organs to life and the chance for rejection after the procedure.

There are already significant controversies surrounding the growth of donor programs such availability of donors, expense of the procedures and long-term monitoring. So it amazes me if this is true - that physicians which take the oath of "do no harm" could be facing allegations of human tissue trafficking.

There are still many open questions about the ethics of organ transplants and I'm just going to throw it out there for you folks to comment on, but should there be an age limit in people waiting for an organ transplant?

Should people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse be eligible to receive organ transplants?

And how about financial incentive - should monetary compensation be a part of any program - either for a recipient to pay their way to the "top" of the list, or for a person to be compensated for donating a healthy organ?

I know what the answers to those questions are in my mind, but I'm interested in hearing from you...