Changes in controversial organ donation method stir fears

The Washington Post, September 20, 2011
Surgeons retrieving organs for transplant just after a donor's heart stops beating would no longer have to wait at least two minutes to be sure the heart doesn't spontaneously start again under new rules being considered by the group that coordinates organ allocation in the United States. The organization is also poised to eliminate what many consider a central bulwark protecting patients in such already controversial cases: an explicit ban on even considering anyone for those donations before doctors and family members have independently decided to stop trying to save them. The proposed changes by the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Richmond nonprofit organization that coordinates organ donation under a contract with the federal government, are part of the first major overhaul of the 2007 guidelines governing "donation after cardiac death," or DCD, which accounts for a small but growing percentage of donations each year. Proponents say the changes strengthen the transplant system by aligning the rules with other regulatory bodies and better ensure that the wishes of donors and their loved ones are honored without sacrificing necessary protections.

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