Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Organ Wars: Another Battle

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Organ Wars: Another Battle

Article excerpt

Legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in April would lead to the abandonment of new federal rules that seek to distribute organs primarily according to need rather than by geographic location. The legislation would uphold existing allocation policies, which, while varying among different organ types, generally ensure that organs are distributed via a three-tiered geographic scheme--first locally, then regionally, and finally nationally.

The House vote is the latest step in an ongoing saga (see Joanne Silberner, "Organ Wars," HCR, November-December 1999). The new regulations were initially proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in April 1998 but due to congressional intervention went into effect only in March of this year. DHHS and the United Network for Organ Sharing--the private organization running the transplant system under a contract with the government--then entered into negotiations to decide how the rules should be administered.

The congressional action would deprive the Department of Health and Human Services of authority to determine the allocation of organs and entrust it to UNOS. Congress and UNOS believe that the regulations promulgated by DHHS would concentrate organ transplant procedures in a few large, internationally known transplant centers, with the effect that organs from donors in states without major centers might be transported to the states that have them and end up in people from still other states. …

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