Transplant Surgeons Oppose Proposed Donation Guidelines
Transplant surgeons "across the country are balking" at a proposed set of voluntary guidelines that seek to "better screen potential living donors and limit who can become a donor," the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, the guidelines -- proposed by the United Network for Organ Sharing -- "have already been watered down, and it is unclear if they will be approved at all."
The "most contentious" elements of the four-part guidelines are assurances that potential donors receive proper medical and psychological screening, along with two years of follow-up care, and recommendations to ensure donors give their informed consent, according to the Journal.
However, the two-year post-donation follow-up requirement has been deleted, the "absolute exclusion criteria" for potential donors has been changed to "exclusion criteria" and the wording in the proposal's title has been changed from "guidelines" to "recommendations" to stress that they are voluntary, among other changes.
The reaction from transplant surgeons has been "largely negative," the Journal reports, noting that of the 11 regions across the U.S., physicians in just four regions voted to approve the original guidelines, while several other regions said they were strongly opposed. In addition, "some surgeons worry that insurance companies or juries will use the guidelines to penalize doctors who don't follow them," according to the Journal.
A letter from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons said, "Dictating the practice of medicine and surgery is not the role of (UNOS), let alone in the best interests of patients."
Despite the opposition and revisions to the guidelines, Tom Falsy, a member of the living donor committee and the UNOS board, said, "We definitely need to have some guidelines," adding, "We're trying to be less prescriptive so we can get something passed" (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 9/13).