Transplant Recipient speaks out: “Shame on the American Diabetes Association”

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A transplant recipient and past National Public Citizen of the Year as awarded by the National Association of Social Workers, Dr. Richard Darling, is criticizing the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for not taking a proactive stance with organ-donor policy makers in support of trial projects of new organ-donor policies to reverse America’s crisis of one person on the transplant list dying every 52 minutes—a large percentage of them diabetics.

A transplant recipient and past National Public Citizen of the Year as awarded by the National Association of Social Workers, Dr. Richard Darling, is criticizing the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for not taking a proactive stance with organ-donor policy makers in support of trial projects of new organ-donor policies to reverse America’s crisis.

Darling’s facts show that the present organ-donor system—agreeing to donate after death—is failing miserably in meeting the demand for organs as evidenced by the fact that one person on the transplant list dies every 52 minutes. Darling’s assessment: “That’s outrageous.”

Darling states, “Of the 111,000 people dying on the transplant waiting list, 89,000 need new kidneys but that’s just the tip of the sinking iceberg. Not only is the wait for a kidney ten years in many areas—a death sentence—but there are 317,000 more patients on kidney dialysis who are not even being listed for transplant!”

“Race plays a role too,” Darling adds, “African-Americans are disproportionately affected by our failing system because of their high rates of diabetes. In addition, as reported by Rob Stein of the Washington Post, rules are being considered that give younger patients favoritism over older patients. The truth is that is already occurring regularly in transplant centers, it’s medical rationing and it’s unconscionable.”

Darling continues, “The ADA’s silence on our organ-donor crisis is deafening. How many thousands of diabetics and other renal patients have to die before the ADA shouts out with a call for trial projects of new organ donor policies?”

Darling is CEO of the FAIR (FAIR Allocations in Research and Organ Donation) Foundation which is calling for trial projects of two new organ-donor policies: Financial Compensation (FC) to living donors and deceased donor families, and Presumed Consent (PC).

Darling and his organization’s Board of Directors, consisting of 29 transplant surgeons, medical directors and patient advocates, believe Financial Compensation(FC) to donors would eliminate the kidney waiting list and drastically reduce the list for all other organs within five years.

Under FC, living donors and deceased donor families would receive $50,000. Living kidney donors also would be reimbursed for medical expenses, lost wages and if their remaining kidney ever failed they would be moved to the top of the waiting list.

How would we taxpayers pay for this?

Darling states, “Medicare would pay and it would be cost effective because it costs $50,000 more annually to keep a diabetic on kidney dialysis compared to their receiving a transplant.”

Darling continues, “Amazingly, the governmental organizations that retrieve organs and tissues from deceased donors receive millions in revenue from their work as do many other companies, yet the deceased donor’s family that has funeral expenses, etc. and living donors get zero dollars—that’s grossly unfair.”

Can you buy an organ from your neighbor? Darling responds, “No, you cannot buy an organ from anyone."

But payment for organs is presently prohibited by law. Darling responds, “When that 1984 law was passed there was no waiting list. With the list now being over 111,000 and many of them dying daily, we have to stop moralizing and start saving more lives.”

Presumed Consent(PC) is presently utilized in 22 countries. With the passage of a PC law, everyone would be deemed an organ donor after their death unless one opts out of the system.

Darling states, “If someone does not want to save a life after they die, let us put the burden on them to opt out of the system. Presently, the burden is on the person who wants to save a life to sign-up at the DMV and tell their family members, etc.”

Darling concludes with a personal plea to the ADA’s CEO, Larry Hausner:

“Your organization’s Mission Statement is ‘to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.’ Surely, ‘improve the lives of’ should include preventing death with organ transplant, indeed, that should be priority number one for the ADA.

"When you achieve success and orchestrate our government towards new OD policies that save the lives of hundreds of thousands of renal patients, they will not only rejoice but be the first to say that your total compensation of $475,863 is richly deserved.”

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