Justice Department OKs Paired Organ Donation
The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday issued a memo stating that federal law does not prevent kidney paired donations, a procedure in which an individual donates a kidney in exchange for having a relative or loved one receive a kidney from another individual, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The procedure was developed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2001, and so far, about 140 have been performed. The practice has "remained rare" because of the 1984 Organ Transplant Act, which made it illegal to donate an organ for "valuable consideration," the Sun reports.
The original intent of the law was to prevent people from buying and selling kidneys.
According to the memo, nothing in the law prevents kidney paired donations. The memo will be posted on the DOJ Web site on Tuesday.
About half of the 6,000 people waiting for a kidney could receive one as a result of the ruling, according to Robert Montgomery, an associate professor of surgery and director of Hopkins' Comprehensive Transplant Center.
William Lawrence, director of patient affairs for the United Network for Organ Sharing, and Montgomery said they are optimistic that Congress will pass legislation that would specifically allow kidney paired donations. The House and Senate have approved such measures, but differences in language must be resolved, according to Lawrence.
Richard Freeman, chair of the legislative committee of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, said, "It's going to make [a] dramatic difference in removing barriers we've all faced trying to perform paired transplants" (O'Brien/Emery, Baltimore Sun, 4/3).