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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting aggressive about organ donations

Boston University bioethicist Michael Grodin says in today's Washington Post that organ donation networks can appear too zealous in their efforts to find potential donors.

"It's like they're vultures flying around the hospitals hovering over beds waiting for them to die so they can grab the organs," he told the Post. "That's the impression you get sometimes."

The story traces the more aggressive drive for organ donations to a 2003 federal campaign called the Breakthrough Collaborative. It was designed to boost the number of organs retrieved by the nation's 58 organ-procurement organizations, or OPOs, in light of a growing waiting list for kidneys, livers and other organs.

OPOs defend their practices while condemning a California case in which a surgeon is accused of hastening an organ donor's death, the story said.

"That case appears absolutely to be a case of a transplant recovery surgeon crossing a very clear line that should never be crossed," Thomas Mone, president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organization, told the Post. "Our job is to recover organs and save lives. But we have to do that sensitively, honestly and fairly, keeping the interests of the donors and families in mind. There's often a fine line there, but we make sure we never cross it."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 08:00 AM
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