Financial aspects of organ procurement from deceased donors in the USA-Relevance to xenotransplantation.

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Abstract

When clinical xenotransplantation is introduced, the costs associated with acquisition of a genetically engineered pig organ are as yet unknown. How will these costs compare with those currently associated with the acquisition of deceased human organs? An understanding of the financial aspects of deceased organ and tissue procurement in the USA is therefore worthwhile. We have therefore attempted to review certain economic aspects of non-profit and for-profit organizations that provide cadaveric organs and/or tissues for purposes of transplantation into patients with end-stage organ failure, cellular deficiencies, or in need of reconstructive procedures. We briefly consider the laws, organizations, and business practices that govern the acquisition, processing, and/or distribution of cadaveric organs and tissues, and the economic implications of industry practices. In particular, we explore and highlight what we perceive as a lack of transparency and oversight with regard to financial practices, and we question whether donor families would be entirely happy with the business environment that has developed from their altruistic donations. Until xenotransplantation becomes established clinically, which will negate the need for any system of organ procurement and allocation, we suggest that those involved in organ and cell transplantation, as well as those who participate in reconstructive surgery, should take responsibility to ensure that the financial practices associated with procurement are transparent, and overseen/regulated by a responsible authority. We suggest the major transplant societies should take a lead in this respect. The ability to acquire a genetically engineered pig organ whenever required through a simple commercial transaction (as in the acquisition of a life-saving drug) will be greatly to the patient's benefit.

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