Dr. Ghahramani reported on the Iranian system. Although, it’s obviously not the ideal system, there are some lessons to learn from it:
- The system eliminated the waiting list so more lives were saved.
- He claims that potential donors were evaluated thoroughly by nephrologists and the transplant team for clearance.
- Patients paid 3/4 of the amount of the compensation that is set by the transplant community. This amount is revised every year depending on inflation. The government paid 1/4. Charity organizations took over in cases of patients of low socioeconomic status.
- The donor was offered free follow up medical care by the government.
Dr. Danovitch certainly made excellent comments on how “Commercial living donation displaces non-commercial living unrelated donation and comes at the expense of living related donation”. This was obvious in the Iranian and the Israeli experience, although one may think that enrollment of the ESRD patients on the deceased list before they are allowed to look for a living donor could potentially give incentives to friends and family to donate. I think the most important comment he made is about how “the rest of the world might follow suit if the U.S. allowed incentivized organ donation”. Those parts of the world may not have the regulation ability as the US government, causing what Dr. Danovitch called “blowback” in a global competition of incentives. On the other hand, Dr. Danovitch talked about the disincentives for people to donate. He showed data that more people of high socioeconomic status are donating as LURD. I can’t believe that people of low socioeconomic status have less good intentions than rich people but simply they couldn’t afford to do this act of love to friends or beloved ones because of the disincentives I talked about in the previous blog.
Dr. Matas offered an interesting potential model in the US including “national criteria for selecting donors under an incentivized plan. The organ procurement organization could set up screening interviews, including medical and psychological evaluation and panel reviews involving the surgeons, other transplant physicians, transplant coordinators, social workers and patient advocates. If accepted, a computer algorithm would determine the allocation of the kidney to a center with an appropriately matched candidate at the top of a wait list”.
An interesting comment during this session came from Dr. David Sachs who saw that both Dr. Danovitch and Dr. Matas were talking about the same thing and he felt that eliminating disincentives or compensating donation could be the same thing and we should be working together to eliminate the waiting list rather that fighting.
Those disincentives could be eliminated by indirect compensation. I think it’s about time to start discussing this issue with an open mind and no prejudice, knowing that most people including myself have controversial feelings and need more enlightenment from other people.
I would appreciate your comments and voting.