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Board opposes transplant tourism

Published on: Friday, June 30, 2006

Atlanta -- The OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors, at its meeting June 29-30, unanimously approved a statement opposing so-called "transplant tourism" -- the practice of patients seeking organ transplantation in countries where donors are potentially exploited, such as through paid living donation.

"We make no judgment of the patient who seeks a transplant in dire need," said OPTN/UNOS President Francis Delmonico, M.D. "But we wish to emphasize the exploitive nature of transplant tourism -- both for the human rights of the donor, and for the well-being of the transplant recipient. There is no transparency for the recipient to know the donor's circumstances or the risk of disease transmission from the donor." The specific wording of the resolution is listed below:

Resolved, that the OPTN and UNOS are strongly opposed to practices in which patients in need of transplantation travel abroad to purchase an organ in exploitive situations.

The statement does not affect the status of individual transplant candidates in the United States who may seek transplants in other countries. It is intended as the organization's position to address ongoing public and professional attention to the issue. The Board also directed the OPTN/UNOS Ethics Committee to study the issue further and offer additional recommendation.

UNOS manages the nation's Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Transplantation. The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.