A Post-transplant Patient Speaks Out: “We Have an Organ-Donor Crisis and Need an Additional Policy!”

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According to post-transplant patient David Courtney, America’s present system of organ donation that relies primarily on “altruism” is failing miserably in meeting the demand for organs because the waiting list keeps increasing rapidly, now nearing 113,000 according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Federally contracted operator of the US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. According to the Los Angeles Times, on average, one person that has been listed for transplant dies every 52 minutes.

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Courtney recommends a new organ-donor policy called 'Presumed Consent' which would mandate that all citizens are organ-donors; however each citizen retains the right of free choice—they can opt out of the system at any time.

According to post-transplant patient David Courtney, America’s present system of organ donation that relies primarily on “altruism” is failing miserably in meeting the demand for organs because the waiting list keeps increasing rapidly, now nearing 113,000 according to the United Network for Organ Sharing the Federally contracted operator of the US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. According to the Los Angeles Times, on average, one person that has been listed for transplant dies every 52 minutes.    

He is the President of the Presumed Consent Foundation, Inc, and a member of the FAIR Foundation’s Board of Directors whose 27 transplant surgeons, medical directors and patient advocates support of the implementation of Presumed Consent policy.

Courtney has intimate knowledge regarding the long wait for transplant. His life was close to ending after many years waiting for a double lung transplant.

“Although my life has been saved,” Courtney states, I continue to fight for change from our present policies because so many others are needlessly dying; indeed, thousands of those lives can be saved.”

Courtney recommends a new organ-donor policy called “Presumed Consent” which would mandate that all citizens are organ-donors; however each citizen retains the right of free choice—they can opt out of the system at any time.

“Making a choice,” Courtney clarifies, “remains the most important part of this policy as everyone is entitled to have their choice honored. This policy is presently in effect in 27 countries. It is the fastest and least expensive way to lessen the shortage of organs for transplantation.”

Courtney states, “Studies by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and its members have shown that when faced with a decision at the time of a tragic event, many people do not consent to donation of their loved one’s organs or tissue, simply because they don’t know their loved one’s choice. As a result our current ‘opt-in’ system based on altruism is not meeting the demand for organs.

“Even with our state and federal governments having spent billions of dollars on educating our public on the need for donation, we still have the crisis of a death every 52 minutes,” adds Courtney.

Courtney has clarified in presentations throughout the USA to Patient and Civic Groups, the United Network for Organ Sharing’s Ethics Committee and the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, as well as many state and federal legislators and committees that Presumed Consent Policy in the US should be implemented with integral capabilities as championed by the Spanish Model of Presumed Consent: Notification, education, awareness, a central registry, program management, and legal protection for providers and oversight.

Courtney summarizes his position, “Yes, my life was saved by our present policy but thousands of others are dying and we must fight to help them with the implementation of Presumed Consent policy which will provide many more organs for life-saving transplant.”

Courtney urges you to communicate with your Congresspersons to share your support for Presumed Consent at this link.

About David Courtney:
David Courtney was diagnosed with the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease “Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency” at the age of 40. David has served on the Board of Directors of the Alpha-1 Advocacy Alliance (A1AA) and currently serves on the advisory committee for the Save Lives Now New York Foundation, Inc. He co-founded the West Texas Alpha-1 Self Support Group, is past Chapter President of the Texas Panhandle Chapter of the Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO) and is an active member of LifeGift Organ Donation Center’s Vital Volunteer Group. David has served as a member of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO, now known as The Joint Commission) Public Policy Roundtable on Organ Donation. He has presented Presumed Consent policy to meetings of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, the UNOS Ethics Committee, as well as many state and federal legislative committees and staff. He serves as a Deacon and leads the Men’s Ministry at Western Heritage Fellowship, a non-denominational church. He is a disabled veteran and received bi-lateral lung transplant September 8th, 2008.

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