A quarter of kidney donors are living: what you need to know to be a donor

The Conversation, 19 June 2017
Author: Holly Hutton
“At any one time, more than 1,400 Australians are on an organ transplant waiting list. The most common organs in demand are kidneys, followed by the liver and lung. While the number of deceased organ donors in Australia has doubled since 2009, rates of live donor transplantation – where a person donates one kidney or, rarely, a portion of their liver – are relatively static. The Australian government gives A$4.1 million to run the Supporting Living Organ Donors program. This scheme includes reimbursing employers for sick leave for those who donate an organ, as well as other initiatives that aim to remove financial barriers to organ donation.”
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The Disputed Death of an 8-Year-Old Whose Organs Were Donated

The Atlantic, 16 June 2017
Author: Sarah Zhang
“This unusual case casts light on a once-controversial but increasingly common protocol called “organ donation after circulatory death,” which occurs after the heart has stopped. (Also sometimes called “donation after cardiac death,” or DCD.) In contrast, the vast majority of organs in the U.S. come from donors who are brain dead.”
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No Pain, All Gain: The Case for Farming Organs in Brainless Humans

JME Blog, 10 June 2017
Authors: Ruth Stirton, David Lawrence
“It is widely acknowledged that there is a nationwide shortage of organs for transplantation purposes. In 2016, 400 people died whilst on the organ waiting list. Asking for donors is not working fast enough. We should explore all avenues to alleviate this problem, which must include considering options that appear distasteful. As the world gets safer, and fewer young people die in circumstances conducive to the donation of their organs, there is only so much that increased efficiency in collection (through improved procedures and storage) can do to increase the number of human organs available for transplantation. Xenotransplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans – gives us the possibility of saving lives that we would certainly lose otherwise.”
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Blood disaster: Families search for the truth

BBC, 10 May 2017
Source: BBC News
“Jason Evans’ father died after being infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood. Now in what is understood to be the first case of its kind, Jason is taking legal action against the government for its role in his father’s death. More than 2,000 people – mostly haemophiliacs – have died after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood treatments. The victims were infected over 25 years ago, in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.”
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‘I went to the web to find a new kidney’

BBC, 1 May 2017
Author: Lesley Curwen
“A growing number of UK patients have bypassed the traditional NHS system of organ allocation, instead harnessing the power of the internet to find their own. Transplant doctors fear this development could result in an unsavoury competition to attract donors online, in what some have called an “organ beauty pageant”. And they worry that it rips up the traditional health service ethos of equal access to treatment for all.”
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Smithfield makes move on market for pig-human transplants

Reuters, 12 April 2017
Authors: Julie Steenhuysen, Michael Hirtzer
“Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has established a separate bioscience unit to expand its role in supplying pig parts for medical uses, with the ultimate goal of selling pig organs for transplantation into humans. Recent scientific advances for using pigs as a supply of replacement parts for sick or injured people, makes it an attractive new market. Transplants from animals could help close a critical gap to help those in need.”
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In a world first, Singapore’s highest court rules that parents deserve kids with their genes

The Conversation, 3 April 2017
Author: G. Owen Schaefer
“Blood is thicker than water, or so the saying goes, reflecting the value we put on biological relationships. But is it something the law should recognise? Singapore’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that asks this very question, and it gave a fascinating answer: parents have a strong interest in “genetic affinity” with their children, one that can merit compensation if subverted.”
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The Deadly Business of an Unregulated Global Stem Cell Market

BMJ Blog, 30 March 2017
Authors: Tereza Hendl, Tamra Lysaght
“In our paper, we report on the case of a 75-year old Australian woman who died in December 2013 from complications of an autologous stem cell procedure. This case was tragic and worth reporting to the medical ethics community because her death was entirely avoidable and the result of a pernicious global problem – doctors exploiting regulatory systems in order to sell unproven and unjustified stem cell interventions.”
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Donation after brain circulation determination of death

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:15
Authors: Anne L. Dalle Ave, James L. Bernat
“In DBCDD, death is determined when the cessation of circulatory function is permanent but before it is irreversible, consistent with medical standards of death determination outside the context of organ donation. Safeguards to prevent error include that: 1] the possibility of auto-resuscitation has elapsed; 2] no brain circulation may resume after the determination of death; 3] complete circulatory cessation is verified; and 4] the cessation of brain function is permanent and complete. Death should be determined by the confirmation of the cessation of systemic circulation; the use of brain death tests is invalid and unnecessary. Because this concept differs from current standards, consensus should be sought among stakeholders. The patient or surrogate should provide informed consent for organ donation by understanding the basis of the declaration of death.”
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When organ donation isn’t a donation

BMJ 2017;356: j1028
Author: Margaret McCartney
“The rest of the UK requires consent for organ donation, either by the dead person having pre-empted the decision by joining the donor register or by family consent. Wales uses a “soft” opt-out, meaning that it’s not intended to be legally enforced and that potential situations where doctors remove organs for transplant directly against the surviving family’s wishes will not occur.”
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