Children as Living Organ Donors: Current Views and Practice in the United States
Olbrisch, Mary E
Levenson, James L
Newman, Joel D
Current opinion in organ transplantation 2010 Apr ; 15(2): 241-4
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To summarize recent practices and views regarding children as living organ donors in the USA. RECENT FINDINGS: Living donors have become an increasingly important source of organs for transplantation. Concern for the rights of donors has resulted in reconsideration of the use of minors as living organ donors. Most commentators have voiced concerns that minors deserve extraordinary protection, but are unwilling to ban the practice of living donation by minors outright. Instead, factors to be considered in individual situations have been enumerated, and safeguards recommended. These same safeguards have also been recommended to be extended to adults, as attainment of legal age does not in itself confer immunity from exploitation. Developmental factors of importance include brain maturation affecting decision making, executive function and impulse control; the dependent status of minors, usually on the persons who may most want them to be donors; youthful idealism and sense of invulnerability; and incomplete identity formation. SUMMARY: Fewer children in the USA have become living donors in the past decade. Preadolescent children in particular should probably be considered as potential donors only in extraordinary circumstances. Safeguards protect not only children, but transplant physicians, programs and the image of the transplant endeavor.
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