A zinger arrived in my inbox yesterday, courtesy of “Kidney Transplant Today,” the email newsletter of the American Association of Kidney Patients. Clinical Transplantation has published an empirical study that calls into question the social and economic ethics of Web sites like MatchingDonors.com that attempt to match altruistic would-be living kidney donors with people in need of a transplant.
The study, or at least the press release about the study, does not introduce to the debate any new arguments, but its authors do take a firm stance that these sites are cause for ethical concern, based on their study data. Unfortunately, not enough is covered about the study’s methodology or empirical data and results for readers like me to be able to make an informed opinion on the merits of the study. But the news release in and of itself is a good read if you want to understand some of the concerns that many in the transplant community have about this approach to getting transplant recipients the organs they need.
I count myself among the critics, despite two things — first, my immense appreciation for everything that is being done with good intentions to try to help get people off of the transplant waiting list; and second, my friendship with a very kind man who donated a kidney through MatchingDonors.org. I cannot get past the social injustice argument, which, data or no data, is explained rather well in the news release. All over this country, leaders, physicians, patients, donors, and others are working to define policies and approaches that support the most good for the most people, based on the principle that race, economic status, physical appearance, and other variables should not be factors in how available organs get distributed to the people who need transplants.
I’ll try to get my hands on more detail about the study so I can be better informed, and if I can, I’ll add a link to it here.
UPDATE (11/6/08) My aforementioned friend who donated via MatchingDonors.com, Tom Simon, has posted his point of view on his blog, KidneyChronicles.com. I strongly recommend it if you want to understand the opposing view of the authors of the study. I don’t doubt he gets tired of defending his choice, and he makes a strong point. He also gets extra points for calling me “beautiful” in his post. 🙂