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Board condemns organ brokering

Published on: Friday, June 29, 2001

San Diego -- The United Network for Organ Sharing's (UNOS) Board of Directors, at its semi-annual meeting June 28 and 29, adopted a statement condemning organ brokering activities and calling for U.S. transplant organizations to avoid any activities that may support the buying or selling of organs.

Patricia Adams, M.D., UNOS President, noted that the most tangible organ brokering allegations (particularly living organ donation in exchange for payment) concern non-U.S. countries. "We cannot investigate or govern the transplant activities of other nations," she said. "We must, however, strongly reiterate the ethical principles of the U.S. transplant system and do all we can to ensure that it continues to honor the selfless, life-giving act of organ donation." The board also directed several committees to evaluate the issue of organ brokering and consider further actions as appropriate.

In other actions, under UNOS' responsibility to operate the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), the board approved a series of initiatives intended to enhance patients' access to transplantation. Among the initiatives was a recommendation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to solicit a study of socio-economic issues that affect patients' ability to be listed for a transplant. The board also accepted policy changes that will enhance the types of data UNOS can release to the public about the activities of individual transplant centers and organ procurement organizations.

The board was briefed on a number of issues currently under consideration by OPTN/UNOS committees but subject to future action. These include methods to enhance organ donation from non-traditional donors, potential modifications to kidney allocation policy based on allocation modeling and proposed refinements to heart and lung allocation policies based on the medical urgency of patients.

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a nonprofit charitable organization, maintains the nation's organ transplant waiting list under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration. Under that contract and on behalf of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), UNOS brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.

Resolution of the UNOS Board of Directors Regarding Organ Brokering:

UNOS is extremely troubled by recent reports of arrangements being made for the buying and selling of organs for transplantation in countries other than the United States. Resolved, that UNOS has always condemned the brokering of organs and supports the present U.S. law that prohibits the buying and selling of organs. Therefore, UNOS members should take appropriate actions to prevent participation in brokered arrangements wherever they may occur for the purchase or sale of organs. UNOS members who participate in any such arrangements shall be considered for status as "member not in good standing."