Organ donation refers to the surgical removal of the body organ from one individual to allow for the transplantation into another individual. The individual donating the organ is referred to as the donor, while the patient receiving is referred to as the recipient. For a successful transplant, both the donor and the recipient must exhibit perfect compatibility, commonly known as Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Lack of this compatibility may result into organ rejection after transplantation. This paper examines the concept of organ donation in modern day health care. In particular the paper establishes the role of current health care reforms in enhancing the future of organ donation.
Background of the Study
While comparing with the health situation in the past, the present health care has tremendously improved lives of patients from life threatening conditions. Patients experiencing organ failure have better chances of surviving today as opposed to prior time before invention of organ donation approach. The later has made it possible to effectively manage conditions that were initially untreatable. Though organ donation is not the only available remedy for most life threatening conditions, there are situations where it remains to be the only possible tangible approach. A number of organ transplants done across the globe have greatly increased ever since the first successful attempt in the year 1954 (National Clinical Taskforce on Organ and Tissue Donation 34). These increases in the number of successful organ transplants have emerged as a result of increase in the number of other supportive remedies.
Amongst supportive remedies that have resulted into increased success in organ transplant is the increase in strategies geared towards preventing rejection of the organ meant for transplant. Life of many patients has greatly improved with advances in such strategies coupled with increased acceptance of organ transplant as a medical therapy (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, pp. 123-126). A number of those in need of organs are far much greater than the available organs. Ethical and policy matters revolving around organ donation have led into emergence of various debates. Since the goal of the whole procedure is to prolong life of those in need of the transplant, it is important to establish how current health care reforms can increase the possibility of organ donation.
Health Care Reforms and the Future of Organ Donation
In order for health care reforms to sustain a bright future for organ donation, there is need to advocate for organ donation as a good gesture by the public. The health reforms put in place should thus have sufficient financial allocations to cater for organ allocation and procurement. Provisions of such health reforms should be able to reimburse organ donors via public health programs and increase supply of organs. Such health reforms should also provide funds in promoting public education geared towards promoting awareness of organ transplant as a medical therapy. The best health reforms in this regard should also advocate for best practices in pursuit for organs from donors including retrieval of organs from deceased individuals.
It is unfortunate that most of the available health care reforms have done little to increase the use of organ transplant as a medical therapy. The Health care reform passed by the US Congress for instance, has various impacts on patients and organ transplant centers (Axelrod, Millman and Abecassis 2197-2202). In general, this reform aims at reducing the cost in health care while reforming the health insurance policies. With the elimination of pre-existing conditions, many private sector reforms may subsequently increase access to organ transplant. It is however feared that lack of an adequate supply of organs may increase the waiting period and the implicated costs of an organ transplant. With the existence of such acts in the US, organ donors are likely to earn very minimal reimbursement following the consolidation of markets and an increase in the power of transplant networks. This is likely to threaten the future of organ donation.
The possibility of an increase in organ donation as a medical remedy can only occur if the health reforms put in place can advocate for ethical organ allocation. This is because the numbers of those in need of vital organ transplants exceed the available supply of the organs by a very big margin. The health reforms put in place should advocate for best practices with regard to organ distribution justice and the need to ensure an equal access (National Clinical Taskforce on Organ and Tissue Donation, p. 34). Such reforms should thus ensure that organs are made available to patients based on factors geared at reducing biasness and unfair distribution. Such reforms should best be implemented especially in the distribution of organs retrieved from deceased individuals.
In order to promote equal access, health care reforms should advocate for organ distribution through procedures that are free of race, sex, social status and age biases. This is because every person needs to live irrespective of the circumstances under which he or she lives in. Most research findings currently indicate that, in the event where two individuals are in need of an organ transplant, preferences by majority are determined by the individual’s lifestyle that led to that condition. The argument behind such notion is that most people with bad lifestyle habits such as smokers choose to put themselves in danger. Such habits deprive those in real need of organ chances to get them if considered under equal access. Most donors are thus reluctant to give their organs to individuals who may have exposed themselves to life threatening conditions like excessive drinking and smoking. It is thus very important for existing health care reforms to critically examine such aspects in respect to best practices to ensure a better future for organ donation (Ubel, Jepson and Baron, pp. 600-607). Further educating the general public and medical care professionals should also be considered in order to address such biases that may limit supply of vital organs.
In order for the existing health care reforms to ensure a sustainable supply of vital organs in future, there is need to examine the use of financial incentives (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, pp. 123-126). Donors of vital organs should possibly receive some good incentives to motivate them towards donating their organs to save other people’s lives. Since most current procedures in organ transplant financially benefit the parties involved, the rules appears insensitive to the donors. While a doctor is paid for the service while the recipient receives the gift of life, the donor needs some form of compensation too. Since financial incentives are part of any form of medical practice, it is thus appropriate for health care reforms to consider the use of a fixed compensation for organ donors. Such an approach may likely communicate to prospective donors of the societal obligation expected of them in the process of donating their organs. Since organ donation is a very sensitive area of medical practice, it is better, if the current health care reforms considered the allocation of provisions to sustain a public reserve for vital organs. This will possibly ensure that private sectors do not exploit the general public when it comes to the costs implicated in getting the transplant.
In order to increase the possibility of considering organ donation as a medical remedy, health care reforms need to re-examine a number of aspects. Among the critical questions that need to be re-examined is the use of incentives as a way of increasing organ supply. Financial incentives when allocated to organ donors will serve as a reward for the gift of life offered through donation of their organs. However, since it remains unclear on how much should be given for a particular organ; there is need for the current health care reforms to promote educating the general public on the values and virtues of donating organs. Further public education should more so focus on eradicating the biasness held by prospective donors when considering who deserves to receive the organ. There is also a need for the current health care reforms to consider investing more in research geared at establishing factors leading to a low supply of organs.
- Axelrod, David, Daniel Millman, and Davidson Abecassis. US Health Care Reform and Transplantation. Part I: overview and impact on access and reimbursement in the private sector. Am J Transplant 10 (2010): 2197-2022. Print.
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Organ Donation – opportunities for action. Washington: National Academies Press, 2006. Print.
- National Clinical Taskforce on Organ and Tissue Donation. Final Report–2008: Think nationally, act locally. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2008. Print.
- Ubel, Peter, Jacobs Jepson, and Jackson Baron. Allocation of Transplantable Organs: Do People want to Punish Patients for Causing their Illness? Liver Transplant 7.7 (2001): 600-7. Print.