Web site links organ donors, recipients

July 17, 2006

A Web site that matches people needing organ transplants with prospective donors may be unpopular with medical ethicists but not the people it serves.

MatchingDonors.com saved the life of Gail Thomas Willis, a former opera singer and mother of two, who was in desperate need of a kidney, CBS News reported. Willis received a kidney from a total stranger named Paul Wagner who saw her picture and small profile on the Web site.

"I wanted to do something nice for somebody," Wagner told CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

Last year 90,000 people needed organ transplants but only 28,000 were performed in the United States due to a lack of donors.

Some 8,000 people die each year because they didn't receive an organ transplant in time.

Still, many doctors believe it's unethical to rely on Web sites like MatchingDonors.com where people literally shop for help.

"I strongly believe that the donor should not be able to pick the recipient," Dr. Doug Hanto, chief of transplant surgery at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, told CBS. "Not the person who's got the best story, the best picture on the Web site. It should go to the person who needs it most."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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