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Opinion 2.152 - Solicitation of the Public for Directed Donation of Organs for Transplantation

The obligation of physicians to hold their patients’ interests paramount and to support access to medical care requires that maximizing the number of medically suitable solid organs for transplantation by ethical means should remain a priority of the medical profession. Donation of organs to specified recipients has been permitted since the beginning of organ transplantation. Although directed donation is permitted under current national policy, solicitation of organs from potential donors who have no preexisting relationship with the recipient is controversial. The following guidelines regarding solicitation of organ donors are offered:

(1) Solicitation of the public for organ donation has unknown effects on the organ supply and on transplant waiting lists. Policies should be based, as far as possible, on facts rather than assumptions, so physicians should support study of the current system and development of policy based on the results of such studies.

(2) Directed donation policies that produce a net gain of organs in the organ pool and do not unreasonably disadvantage others on the waiting list are ethically acceptable, as long as donors receive no payment beyond reimbursement for travel, lodging, lost wages, and the medical care associated with donation.

(3) The health care team must fully evaluate the medical and psychosocial suitability of all potential donors, regardless of the nature of the relationship between the potential donor and transplant candidate. A physician should resist pressure to participate in a transplant that he or she believes to be ethically improper and should not pressure others to participate if they refuse on ethical or moral grounds. (VII, VIII, IX)

Issued November 2006 based on the report "Solicitation of the Public for Directed Donation of Organs for Transplantation," adopted June 2006.