Doctor finds organ donor on web
DENVER ” A doctor who found a kidney donor over the Internet was set to receive a transplant Wednesday at Porter Adventist Hospital after a surgical team at another hospital refused to perform the operation because of ethical concerns.
If completed as planned, it would be the second such transplant in Denver and the 16th nationally set up through Canton, Mass.-based MatchingDonors.com.
Dr. Angie Carranza, 37, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, went searching for a donor on the site in February after failing to find a donor among her family and friends. Sandy Miller, 47, a teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio, contacted her in June after reading her story on the Web site.
“I was looking for someone who would really turn their life to help other people. That’s what she was already doing,” said Miller, who said she is not being paid for her donation. “…We were strangers at first but she’s someone very close and special to me right now.”
Miller is staying in a house owned by Porter, and the Web site arranged to fly her to Denver twice ” once for testing and once for the transplant ” through Delta Airline’s medical airlift program.
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Both women turned to the site because of publicity surrounding its first transplant ” a kidney donation ” nearly a year ago at Denver’s Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center. The hospital first halted the surgery when officials realized it was arranged through a commercial Web site but then allowed it to proceed, promising to study the issue further.
The hospital has since decided to allow such transplants, but the surgical team that performs kidney operations still has ethical concerns.
Carranza, medical director for Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, which has one location at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, said the chief surgeon, Igal Kam, refused to meet with her to discuss her concerns.
Kam, who is based at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, was out of the country and not available for comment. Center spokeswoman Sarah Ellis confirmed that Kam objects to such transplants. She said CU doesn’t allow such transplants now but doctors are still discussing the issue.
Carranza, who has been in dialysis since suffering renal failure last July, said she had researched the issue thoroughly ” including talking with the first recipient, Bob Hickey of Edwards. She’s convinced the process is ethical, pointing out that MatchingDonors.com waives the fee for posting a profile to those who can’t afford it.
She acknowledges there is always a potential for people to create a black market for organs but says that shouldn’t be used to stop people who are willing to volunteer their help.
“I truly believe in my heart that there are people out there who genuinely want to help,” she said.
MatchingDonors spokesman Robert Volosevich said 20 more donors have been matched with patients, and those transplants will be performed after medical tests are completed.
Summit Daily News, Summit County, Colorado
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