Screening of living organ donors varies from hospital to hospital

    Authorities suspect a NY man of brokering for black-market kidneys

    A New Jersey corruption case is renewing worries about organ trafficking. As authorities investigate what could be the first documented case in the U.S., ethicists are sounding an alarm over the rules that govern donations.

    Listen: [audio:090830teorgan.mp3]

    A Brooklyn, New York man is accused of brokering the sale of black-market kidneys and taking advantage of vulnerable donors from Israel.

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    UNOS the United Network for Organ Sharing — recommends that every transplant center provide an advocate to protect the interests of donors, but each hospital sets its own policies.

    University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist Art Caplan says some centers do a good job.

    Caplan: They have people who’re basically saying: Show me your birth certificate, show me your papers, I want to know where you came from. I want you to undergo a waiting period, but not every center, not every program does that.

    Caplan is part of a United Nations task force investigating organ trafficking. And some are lobbying for rules that would penalize hospitals that don’t conduct rigorous checks to weed out donors who are coerced or motivated by money.

    John Daller leads an organ transplant team at Temple University Hospital. Temple provides medical and psychological screening, and every donor has an advocate with no ties to the surgery team.

    Daller: As we all know there is always a way around everything. You have to look at the system and say: Is there something inherently wrong in the system or is this just an act of a bad doer?

    Daller says suspect cases are typically detected in weekly meetings that include the transplant team and the donor’s advocate.

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