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We Have One Twisted Health System, Living Organ Donors Beware

November 1, 2009

The status quo for health insurers is minimalist investment in customers, maximum investment into political influence.  Greasy palms are the face of public greenribbonhealth insurance in congress.  Genuine discussion about cost effectiveness and practical application take a back seat to the fears of equity in overall health of this country’s population.

Surprise for organ donors: unexpected medical bills

Austin man who gave kidney to co-worker is one of many who have faced health complications, billing problems.

There is a great big gap in credibility here. Insurance companies play god based on computer models and cost basis.  Whoever you pray to seldom drops money in your hand to pay for life giving treatment.  Unless you are self healing, the miracles of medical technology are for sale only.

The organ donor’s family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation

ACOT further recommends that the following Standards of Disclosure: Elements of Informed Consent be incorporated in the informed consent document given to the potential live organ donor, with specific descriptions that would ensure the donor’s awareness of:

  • the purpose of the donation
  • the evaluation process — including interviews, examinations, laboratory tests, and other procedures — and the possibility that the potential donor may be found ineligible to donate
  • the donation surgical procedure
  • the alternative procedures or courses of treatment for potential donor and recipient
  • any procedures which are or may be considered to be experimental
  • the immediate recovery period and the anticipated post-operative course of care
  • the foreseeable risks or discomforts to the potential donor
  • the potential psychological effects resulting from the process of donation
  • the reported national experience, transplant center and surgeon-specific statistics of donor outcomes, including the possibility that the donor may subsequently experience organ failure and/or disability or death
  • the foreseeable risks, discomforts, and survival benefit to the potential recipient
  • the reported national experience and transplant center statistics of recipient outcomes, including failure of the donated organ and the possibility of recipient death
  • the fact that the potential donor’s participation is voluntary, and may be withdrawn at any time
  • the fact that the potential donor may derive a medical benefit by having a previously undetected health problem diagnosed as a result of the evaluation process
  • the fact that the potential donor undertakes risk and derives no medical benefit from the operative procedure of donation
  • the fact that unforeseen future risks or medical uncertainties may not be identifiable at the time of donation
  • the fact that the potential donor may be reimbursed for the personal expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages related to donation
  • the prohibition against the donor otherwise receiving any valuable consideration (including monetary or material gain) for agreeing to be a donor
  • the fact that the donor’s existing health and disability insurance may not cover the potential long-term costs and medical and psychological consequences of donation
  • the fact that the donor’s act of donation may adversely affect the donor’s future eligibility for health, disability, or life insurance
  • additional informational resources relating to live organ donation (possibly through the establishment of a separate resources center, as separately recommended)
  • the fact that Government approved agencies and contractors will be able to obtain information regarding the donor’s health for life and
  • the principles of confidentiality, clarifying that:
    • communication between the donor and the transplant center will remain confidential;
    • a decision by the potential donor not to proceed with the donation will only be disclosed with the consent of the potential donor;
    • the transplant center will share the donor’s identity and other medical information with entities involved in the procurement and transplantation of organs, as well as registries that are legally charged to follow donor outcomes; and
    • confidentiality of all patient information will be maintained in accord with applicable laws and regulations.

Financial Information for Living Donors

The sad state of health service in America overturns national pride and arrogance.  The dream country of the world flaunts its flushing toilets, Walmarts and gas surgeryguzzlers while neglecting its public wellness.  The contradictions are glaring and ignored by insurance corporations.  Make the maze of health care so complicated that actual diagnosis and treatment is just out of reach for the retired, unemployed and recently victimized by mortgage con artists.  The America we see today is a land of the lucky and unlucky trying to balance honesty and virtue against survival.  The virtue of organ donation is now marred by the shuffling of “who’s paying for all of this”, not us.  The system has cannibalized itself.  Insurance is the holy grail for Americans who are honest enough to understand that the toxic world we live in makes staying healthy a challenge.  Those lucky enough to have genetics strong enough, to hide potential catastrophic illnesses from insurance scrutiny, will then face the inquisition of combing through life histories looking for “pre-existing conditions” worthy of denial.

This is a different America we face today.  Citizens are no longer in charge.  Media, owned by corporations, imaged by marketers is what feeds information to Americans.  Today, the best advertiser wins.  Right now, it appears the advertisers own more Republicans than Democrats … but that gap is closing.  Yes, any solution will be expensive.  More importantly, an inadequate solution will cost even more.  America’s ability to claim world leadership is being undermined by the fading vestiges of the corporate grabfest.  Corporate executives have the funds to insure their future is paved with gold, along with their personal politicians.  Is this really class warfare?  Why does it look more and more like class warfare?  There are whole segments of American society that still have no clue that they have a role in their own future.  That role was bought and paid for long ago by America’s founding fathers.  Without passing judgement on why America has clueless segments of society, they are the tools used by special interests, because they are easily manipulated, bought or coerced.  The system is rotting from the inside out.  Sick social ethic, sick country.  Other countries see how America treats it’s own.  Other countries see through the deception.  America right now is watching it’s future being played out like a ball game.  Each team has its fans.  But, the stakes are too high.

  1. November 4, 2009 9:47 am

    The 1972 Social Security Act, Section 1881 (42 USC 139 rr) established a benefit for living donors. In 1974, the director of SSA issued a memo to all transplant centers that donor expenses were to be billed to the recipient’s insurance – IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW.

    Transplant centers happily complied with this edict; private insurance companies provide larger reimbursements than Medicare. Congress has been informed for this issue multiple times, but it saves Medicare money, so they’ve done nothing.

    ACOT’s recommendations are just that – non-enforcable suggestions. Transplant centers have discretion over exactly what they include in their informed consent process and it never includes the real physiological and psychological risks of living donation (

    The media perpetrates the propoganda that living donation is perfectly safe when we have NO comprehensive long-term data on donors at all. UNOS admits they lose 40% of living donors with-in six months, and the number dwindle from there. The medical community has resisted every effort to implement a living donor registry (even though one exists for recipients, so who do they prioritize?) because they fear it will reveal the truth and they’ll have to find another way to line their pockets.


  1. organ donor | organ donor

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