New Ways to Attract Organ Donors
Panel Calls for Revised CPR Methods to Increase Organ Donations
Financial Incentives for Organ Donations continued...
Some ethicists have also called for the gradual phase-in of financial
rewards for donations, essentially beginning a system of paying for organs.
Such a system has been credited with eliminating the waiting list for kidneys
"We're not going to get many more organs by making small adjustments to
the current system," said Robert M. Veatch, a professor of medical ethics
at Georgetown University who has called for experimentation with
Veatch and others have backed expanding organ donor criteria to include
patients in permanent vegetative states and permanent comas if they are
irreversibly unconscious. It would be a departure from current practices
requiring such patients to be first removed from life support, often damaging
organs in the intervening time while the heart stops pumping blood.
"It would add substantial numbers of persons who are dead with viable
organs," said Veatch.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) strongly opposes any financial
or other incentives for organ donations. UNOS officials did not respond to
requests for comment Tuesday, but Francis Delmonico, the network's president,
told a White House bioethics panel two weeks ago that his group would
"staunchly" oppose incentives.
The IOM panel also recommended against so-called "mandated choice"
laws that would compel people to affirmatively choose on tax returns or
driver's license applications whether or not they wish to donate.
A 'Conservative' Approach
Childress acknowledged that the IOM panel took a "conservative
orientation" to expanding donations. Experts were concerned that more
radical reforms could lead to a backlash among members of the public already
largely reluctant to sign up to be organ donors.
He said the committee chose instead to urge American policy makers and
hospitals to work to enhance existing organ donation systems. "Many of
these things if they were implemented, they would just cause people to opt
out," said Childress, who directs the Center for Practical Ethics at the
University of Virginia.
Veatch argued that the thousands of people who die each year waiting for
organs justifies drastic measures that the IOM report advocates.
"The time has come for some cautious experimentation," he said.
"The unmet need is great and we need a new approach."