Kidney transplants can be lucrative for hospitals

    Ethicists says a look-the-other way attitude aids the illegal kidney trade

    A University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist says hospitals should tighten their screening procedures to help prevent organ trafficking in the United States.

    Listen: [audio:090830teorgan2.mp3]

    A New Jersey corruption sting led to the arrest of a man accused of trying to sell black-market kidneys from vulnerable people from Israel to desperate patients in the U.S.

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    Most transplant centers screen donors and conduct interviews to make sure donors aren’t paid or coerced. But ethicist Art Caplan say some hospitals don’t conduct thorough checks.

    Caplan: One of the inducements for transplant centers to not ask tough questions and perhaps weed out people who might be trafficked to the US is that they know they are gong to get paid, and they are going to get paid pretty well.

    A federal program covers the cost of kidney surgeries, and Caplan says that makes kidney transplantation one of the most lucrative fields in medicine. He wants rule changes that would penalize hospitals that don’t perform rigorous inquiries into the donors’ backgrounds and their relationships to organ recipients.

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