New Organ Donation Rules: Smart or Scary?

Advocates say more lives can be saved
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2011 11:49 AM CDT
New Organ Donation Rules: Smart or Scary?
UNOS is considering changes to organ donation rules.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – New organ donation rules currently under consideration would make it easier for surgeons to retrieve organs for transplant after a donor’s heart stops beating—but opponents fear the changes will contribute to a culture of doctors “hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs,” says one. The proposed rule changes involve the guidelines for donations after cardiac death, or DCD, which accounted for just 6% of organ donations last year. The proposed changes would allow doctors to retrieve organs right away, rather than waiting two minutes to see if the heart starts beating again on its own, and would also lift the ban on considering a patient as a possible donor until doctors and family members decide to halt further treatment on that patient.

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The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) developed the proposal over one year, and will finalize the revisions in November, the Washington Post reports. “The ultimate goal is to facilitate the dying wishes of patients who wish to be donors and save the lives of the 112,000-plus patients who are in need,” says the organization’s immediate past president. But critics of DCD fear that doctors will cease treatment early in an effort to harvest organs, and some call the practice ghoulish. Under the proposed changes, the name would also change to “donation after circulatory death” in an effort to be more clear, advocates say; one opponent says that move could be “intentionally deceptive.” (Read more cardiac-death organ donations stories.)

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