Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Living Kidney Organ Donation Clarification Act

Congress yesterday passed The Living Kidney Organ Donation Clarification Act (S. 487/H.R. 710). This is important legislation for those living with PKD as they enter end-stage renal failure.

Paired Kidney Donation allows for "swapping" of kidneys between patients and willing donors in cases where the willing donors are not suitable matches for those they wish to donate to. For example, say there are two husbands who each want to donate a kidney to their wife, but they find that their kidneys are incompatable. If it turns out that Husband A is compatable with Wife B, and Husband B is compatable with wife A, then they can arrange for the transplants between the compatable, unrelated, donors and recipients, even if they do not know each other. (Gee, the way I tell it it sounds like a reality TV show, doesn't it?)

The potential problem was that since it is illegal to sell a kidney (or any other body part), there was some danger that someone, someday could claim that paired donation was a form of "selling the kidney" and cause a legal hassle for those wishing to pursue this option. This bill, once President Bush signs it, will close that potential loophole.

This is important to me personally, as I am not a compatable donor for Jeanne. Jeanne, and practically her entire side of the family have type O blood. I have type AB. As Jeanne likes to joke, I've "contaminated the blood supply"! Since Jeanne received her transplant when she was just 31, there is a very good chance that she will outlive the transplanted kidney, and need another transplant someday. With Paired Kidney Donation, there is a chance that I could be part of the process that leads to her getting a new kidney.

My thanks to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) for sponsoring this legislation.


Dave said...

The generosity of live organ donors is wonderful. It's a shame we need so many live organ donors. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is another good way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- if you don't agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Bob said...

Thanks for commenting and for pointing me to the LifeSharers organization. I'll be sure to read through your site to learn more about how your idea works. Certainly, anything which can help incent people to donate their organs is something I have interest in.