New policy for kidney transplants: Brutal or moral?

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Yesterday also brought word that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the non-profit group charged with co-ordinating organ allocation, was considering a new policy which would give explicit preference to younger patients in need of kidney transplants.

This would reverse existing policy which gives preference to those within a region of the country who have been waiting longest for a donation. While other factors are now considered, the age of the prospective recipient is not included. The intention of the proposed policy would be to maximize the number of years of life from which the recipient would benefit.

Currently, by far the greatest number of organ transplants involve kidneys. Other less-often transplanted organs are hearts, lungs and livers.

ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom sees this as a big step towards the “Death Panels” cynically bandied about in the last election. “The logical extension of this mindset is that in the future, older patients may not get expensive medications or surgery, since these treatments are more ‘cost effective’ in younger patients.” He adds, “It’s nothing more than promoting the triage of older patients to enact health care rationing. This is a very bad idea.”