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Board endorses studies of incentives to increase donation

Published on: Friday, June 28, 2002

Orlando, Fla. - The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, at its meeting today, agreed to support legislation that would enable studies of the impact of incentives to encourage organ donation and honor organ donors. The Board also resolved that a joint working group of interested
OPTN/UNOS committees be formed to offer recommendations on the development of such demonstration projects and monitor their outcomes.

"We recognize that volunteerism is the basic foundation of public policy regarding organ donation," said Jeremiah Turcotte, M.D., OPTN/UNOS President. "At the same time, given the growing organ shortage and the potential for incentives to help address it, we believe it is important to study their use now in a sensitive manner."

Examples of potential incentives discussed by the board and OPTN/UNOS committees vary widely and could include a "medal of honor" to be presented to donor families, reimbursement of donor funeral or medical expenses, and/or charitable contributions on the donor's behalf. It was noted that any demonstration study of financial incentives would require modification of the National Organ Transplant Act, a federal law that, among other provisions, prohibits "valuable consideration" in return for organ donation. The resolution adopted by the OPTN/UNOS board would support such a modification of the act.

The UNOS Board of Directors establishes uniform policies to govern organ procurement, distribution and transplantation for the United States. The UNOS Board also manages the nation's Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UNOS is a Richmond-based, private non-profit organization linking all members of the organ procurement, transplantation and histocompatibility communities.