Kidney donor and ethicist discuss living organ donation – the Hofstra Chronicle
Photo courtesy of the Center for Practical Bioethics. // Martha Gershun and John D. Lantos spoke to Hofstra students about living organ donation.
Author Martha Gershun and physician-bioethicist John D. Lantos met with Hofstra students via Zoom on Wednesday, October 13 to discuss ethical, legal and personal issues surrounding living organ donation. The event, titled ‘Kidney to Share’, was presented by the Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy at Hofstra Law and the Hofstra Bioethics Center and is based on the 2021 book of the same name that Gershun and Lantos co-authored .
The book featured comments from Gershun and Lantos on living kidney donation or organ donation from a living donor. The students had the opportunity to learn what goes on before surgery and what can be done to make organ donation more accessible.
Gershun herself is a living organ donor. She donated her left kidney to foreigner Debra Gill after reading her story in the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle in December 2017. Gill, a mother of two, developed chronic kidney disease at the age of 27. She received a kidney donation 17 years ago, but it was unsuccessful.
“From the start when I read Deb’s story, I felt like I had to try to help,” Gershun said. At the time, Gershun did not have major responsibilities. She had retired from her post as executive director of the Jackson County court-appointed special advocates and her adult children had left home. She viewed the potential kidney donation as her “next volunteer endeavor”.
The odds that an individual will match a specific person to whom they are not biologically related are about one in 100,000. Gershun and Gill would be unlikely to be compatible.
“It was a miracle that I met Deb,” Gershun said, “and I thought from then on it was going to be easy.”
She did not take into account the extent of the logistical and financial barriers put in place that make living organ donation so difficult.
Logistically, Gershun has been prevented from moving forward in the process on several occasions since she smoked marijuana recreationally and saw a mental health counselor. She also had to figure out how to ship her blood for dry ice testing.
Financially, Gershun said there are more nonprofits in place today than there were when she donated in 2018, but donors should pay out of pocket.
“My husband and I had been dating for over $ 4,000,” she continued, citing travel and hotel expenses. Her beneficiary then reimbursed her, but she added that was not always the case.
John D. Lantos also discussed proposals to limit these barriers. He suggested creating markets for the organs, since it is legal to sell certain parts of the body, such as sperm and eggs.
“There is kind of a contradiction here between the policies regarding certain parts of the body versus other parts of the body,” Lantos said.
“It’s strange to me that it would cost me money to donate part of my body, as opposed to sperm and egg donation,” said Allie Jerreld, a junior forensic student. “I think that would deter people from wanting to be a living organ donor, which is counterproductive if you’re trying to save lives.”
Lantos also spoke about cadaveric organs, presumed consent, or exclusion systems, which means organs can be automatically donated when a person dies. The United States uses an opt-in system where you must register to become an organ donor.
“There are only a few countries in the world that have implemented [presumed consent]: Spain and Croatia, ”Lantos said. “They, unsurprisingly, have the highest rates of cadaveric donation.”
Rachel Roberts, a major in accounting, is a registered organ donor.
“God forbid, I was dying or brain dead from a serious accident,” said Roberts, “I wish someone had my kidney so they could live a life. better.
However, logistical and financial barriers remain.
“We should be allowed to donate our bodies as we wish,” said Jake Pampinella, a young mechanical engineering student. The donation should focus on “ethics and humanity,” he added.
Lantos closed the event with the same statement that closes the book.
“Donors who offer to donate a kidney should be treated like donors who offer to donate money to a hospital,” Lantos said.