April 22, 2024

Should dying patients recruit their own donors?

Everet needs a liver

A Texas man who found a liver donor by advertising on billboards and the internet is being imitated by other sick people who are impatient with the conventional supply system. Several Americans have posted personal web sites looking for a liver or a kidney. The sites have names like EveretNeedsALiver.com, michaelneedsaliver.com, Kenneedsaliver.com and Donationforcynthia.com and feature tragic stories and heart- rending photos.

Doctors and ethicists are alarmed by a possible trend towards queue- jumping. “The level of chaos that will ensue if directed donations and advertising efforts take off is hard to describe,” commented bioethicist Arthur Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania. He acknowledges that putting a human face on the organ shortage could motivate more people to become donors. But potential donors should understand that the issue is “give it to ‘us’, not give it to ‘me’,” he said.