TISSUE BANKS: Senate Approves Regulation of Body Part Donation
The state Senate Health Committee approved a measure Wednesday that would increase the state's regulatory powers over the tissue bank industry, the Orange County Register reports. Sponsored by Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park), the bill requires tissue banks to inform donor families where their family members' body parts are going. The bill also calls on the state Health Department to review the tissue banks' financial records. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Mother Sues Industry
Candace Steele, an Apple Valley resident, testified to lawmakers about the loss of her son, Jason, and the subsequent "fictitious story" told by an employee at the Riverside-based Inland Eye and Tissue Bank. According to Steele, after her son died in a fatal car accident, an employee persuaded her to donate his organs to help another boy waiting for a heart transplant who's brother had recently died. No such boy existed. Instead, three of Jason's heart valves were given to CryoLife, Inc. in Atlanta, which processes heart valves and resells them for about $7,000 each. Jason's valves ultimately were given to a 53-year-old man, a 3-year-old boy and an infant boy. Betsy Allen, the director of Inland Eye and Tissue Bank, said that the company "didn't profit from Jason Steele's death" and "was paid recovery fees by the various companies to cover costs, about $5,500." Steele is suing Inland and all other tissue banks in the state, as well as the majority of the country's for-profit tissue banks, charging that they engage in "a pattern of lying to donors by not disclosing the profits being made on donated body parts," which is prohibited by federal law (Heisel, 6/15).