Kidney Transplant Policy Change

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rob Stein, Washington Post reporter, discusses his recent article concerning a major policy change for recipients of kidney transplants. He argues the change will have major implications for all organ transplants and has led to a heated discussion amongst bioethicists, doctors, and patients alike. 

Jill McMaster, kidney recipient and a Patient and Donors Affairs representative on the board of United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), joins the conversation and talks about what the new kidney donor policy proposal will mean for patients and for those waiting on the list to receive an organ.

The United Network for Organ Sharing's kidney committee is accepting public comments on the proposal until April 1.


Jill McMaster and Rob Stein

Comments [14]

Dave Undis from Nashville, TN

Registered organ donors should get first dibs on donated organs. This will create an incentie for non-donors to register. More donors means fewer people dying waiting for transplants.

About 50% of the organs transplanted in America go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. As long as we let non-donors jump to the front of the waiting list if they need a transplant we'll always have an organ shortage.

Everyone can offer to donate, no matter what their medical condition is.

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. LifeSharers has over 14,500 members.

Mar. 01 2011 08:21 AM
eb1 from long island

fadia and ml are on the right track; it's called 'presumed consent' meaning as a US citizen upon your death you are automatically a potential donor but while living or under some overriding next of kin objections could 'opt out' from being a donor. Many countries in Europe have presumed consent where the organ waiting times are significantly lower or non-existant. see for more info and

Mar. 01 2011 07:04 AM
DTorres from Nathan Strauss Projects

The gentleman that called in,
to say that at 78 an organ transplant
would nice, but he didn't think it would
be fair, sounded so reasonable to me,
because he wouldn't live long enough
to justify the expense.

Few people would be so gracious as he.
I salute him for willingly giving someone
else a chance.
It just so gratifying to know that there
are human beings like that man.

Feb. 28 2011 01:55 PM
Matt from Great Neck, NY

As a three-time organ recipient, I can say that the organ transplant system here in the U.S. is extremely fair and quite successful, considering the scarcity of donated organs. The problem is the amount of misinformation and ignorance that abounds, as represented in the comments here. Everyone interested in donating organs (and that should be everyone) should check out:

Feb. 28 2011 12:16 PM
julie from Park Slope

As a type 1 diabetic from the age of 6, my kidney disease has been an unfortunate side effect.

Now that I am nearly 40, I fear I may have been doing my long term health a disservice by taking medications to perserve my kidneys. By this new logic, I should stop taking medication to increase the likelihood to "qualify" for a new kidney.

Feb. 28 2011 11:48 AM
Carol from nyc

Last year my sister died and our family went with her wishes and donated her organs. We were kind of disappointed how old all the recipients were. In the spirit of something good coming from a death, we had pictured her organs, including kidneys, changing lives. They did prolong the lives of people in their sixties and we're grateful for that. But we would have been more satisfied if the world had gotten more out of them.

Feb. 28 2011 11:44 AM
Jane from East Village

I had a mild case of Hep A in 1976. I cannot donate organs or give blood. How come?

Feb. 28 2011 11:41 AM
Geo from queens

Is it possible that if you are registered as an organ donor that you are more likely to be given less medical attention at a hospital so they can use your organs when you die

Feb. 28 2011 11:41 AM

This entire system of organ transplants is ethically corrupt in the current system of medical care, since it is criminal to deny some people health care but will gladly use their organs as transplants.

Until everyone gets the same healthcare this is criminal!

Feb. 28 2011 11:36 AM
R Schreiner from brooklyn

would it make sense to say the donor's and recipient's age should be within, say, 10 or 15 years of each other?

Feb. 28 2011 11:36 AM
ml from inwood

The first thing to do is to make organ donation automatic when one dies unless you opt out, instead of the current system of opting in.

Feb. 28 2011 11:35 AM
Steve Mark from Manhattan

This is a terrible change. Why not base the choice on IQ, how much someone has paid taxes, the potental of someone to continue to contribute to society as opposed to someone at a poverty level, political correctness, etc. Time waiting is the only okbjective criteria,

Feb. 28 2011 11:33 AM
Fadia from Hackettstown, NJ

Is there a requirement that organ recipients be organ donors upon their deaths? If not, there should be.

Feb. 28 2011 11:33 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Perhaps my comment is a bit dark:
All politicians need to donate a Kidney within 2 weeks of taking office, as long as they are healthy. This is a way to determine their level of Empathy for the public trust .

Feb. 28 2011 11:30 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.