Organ Donation Works
by Tom Scheve
Organ donors must be especially vigilant about maintaining good health and getting medical examinations.
This is the SEVENTH of a series on human organ donation/transplantation I will be posting on this blog. Why will I be doing this? Because I am convinced that the transplantation of human organs is BIG BUSINESS. While it illegal to buy and sell human tissue and human organs for transplantation, it is legal for individuals to donate their tissue and organs to be transplanted into other persons who desperately need such transplanted tissue and organs in order to live a better life and in many cases, such transplanted tissue and organs are necessary for the recipient to stay alive.
While it is illegal to buy and sell human tissue, donated tissue and organs when transplanted in recipients produce a lot of money for the doctors making the removal or the insertion of tissue and organs and for the medical facilities, hospitals or clinics. Transplant operations can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously then it is not unreasonable to describe the medical practice of removal and/or transplantation as BIG BUSINESS.
According to Transplant Living, the average total cost of a single heart transplant in 2007 was $658,800. This figure includes the cost of obtaining a donor heart, at an average of nearly $90,000, about $23,000 in evaluation fees, $40,000 for doctor’s fees, $383,000 in hospital costs, $93,000 in post-operative care, and over $29,000 for immunosuppressive prescription medications. Transplants that involved both a heart and a lung cost an average of $874,800, while heart and kidney combination transplants cost an average of $758,700.
Donors of tissue and organs act out of compassion. The same cannot be said of the health care industry. Example: last year the Chinese government brought charges against local officials in the western region of China who were systematically putting political dissidents in prison and then executing them in a mobile medical facility where their tissue and organs were removed and shipped throughout China where wealthy Chinese paid hundreds of thousand dollars for organ transplants. That practice is not confined to China but is present more or less in many countries.
While such a violation of human rights probably does not occur in the United States, there is illegal trafficking in tissue and organs. What immediately concerns me is the suspicion that the interest of the health care industry and tontos utiles promoting legislation such as the currently pushed Texas Senate Bill 303 and the Texas House Bill 1444 is that such legislation promotes the ‘third way’ for passive euthanasia. Simply put, it is so easy for trained health care personnel to have a naive patient check off boxes on a document like a POLST document that both authorizes withdrawal of treatment (including nutrition and hydration) and the donation of the patient’s organs. George Orwell is probably nodding his head when he hears some proponents of ‘palliative care’ push their agenda; he warned us to look behind the meaning of words.
A Donated Organ’s Path
When any patient dies, the hospital is required to contact the local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). A member of that organization then determines if you are a designated donor or a potential donor and whether your organs are candidates for donation. Your family is contacted about donation, asked for consent if you didn’t register as an organ donor and asked about your medical history.
If it’s determined that your organ can be used, it’s removed, carefully packaged and delivered to the transplant hospital. If the transplant hospital is in the same geographic area as the location of your body, a representative from the OPO transports your organ in a cooler. However, if the organ’s destination is farther away, a contracted team from that hospital or OPO will fly to the organ, take possession of it and deliver it to the transplant hospital. Your organ will then be transplanted into the waiting recipient.
Though you won’t be paid for a living donation, the National Living Donor Assistance Center helps people who can’t afford the expenses they may incur when donating. This isn’t done as an incentive or payment for the donation itself but rather to remove financial obstacles for interested donor candidates. Available assistance includes reimbursement for travel costs and certain nonmedical expenses (such as lodging or meals). Assistance isn’t provided for cases in which expenses have been or will be paid by any other state or federal agency, insurance policy or the organ recipient. The organ recipient carries some expectation of compensation for the donor’s expenses. However, if the recipient’s income is under 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or if hardship can be determined on a case-by-case basis, the program will compensate the donor. Additionally, in some states it’s possible to receive a state income tax deduction for lost wages.
Living donors must strive toward good health get regular medical checkups to stay on top of any potential side effects that may develop from donation. And living donors continue to be at financial risk well after the expenses affiliated with donation are paid off. Most health and life insurance companies will not change rates for a donor, although a living donor may encounter higher rates if seeking to change policies or insurers. Additionally, health conditions resulting from organ donation may not be covered by insurance companies. If a living donor ever needs an organ donation himself or herself, the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) will designate the person with points for more immediate attention. While this provides some preference toward the donor, he or she will still have to wait behind more pressing cases.
If you’re short on this month’s rent, the next section might be of interest to you.
Handouts and Hand-backs
Not all organ recipients are happy with their new body parts. In 1998, New Zealander Clint Hallum became the first person to ever have a successful hand transplant, and in 2001, he became the first person to have a transplanted hand surgically removed by request. Hallum stated he was “mentally detached” from the hand, which, although functional, was much larger than his left hand, a different color and covered in flaky skin
In 2006, a Chinese man became the first successful recipient of a transplanted penis after losing his own in an accident. Shortly thereafter, the man asked to have it removed because it was causing him and his wife psychological problems