Stop penalizing organ donors

Transplant surgeon Dr. Peter Abrams, right, and senior fellow Dr. Yong Kwon transplant a healthy kidney into a patient at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington on Dec. 1, 2015. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

THE VAST majority of Americans talk the talk about organ donation: Ninety-five percent say they support it. But only 50 percent walk the walk as registered donors. At a summit Monday, the White House announced measures that could reduce the gap.

The White House and the universities, nonprofits and other organizations that participated in the summit hope to increase the number of yearly organ transplants in the United States, which last year surpassed 30,000 for the first time. More than 120,000 people remain on the waiting list — almost 100,000 for kidney transplants — and 22 die every day.

The efforts unveiled Monday, which include campaigns to promote donor registration as well as private and public pledges toward research to preserve and repair organs once they have been donated, are smart steps forward: Potential donors should not be deterred by complicated and confusing registration processes, and patients should not go without transplants because of inefficient matching procedures or organ expiration. Funding for tissue-fabrication research and efforts to ensure donors declare their intent to donate online are particularly promising. Continue reading
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