With the number of patients in need of organ transplants on the rise, an increasing number of patients are turning to unconventional sources for organs. Individuals are willing to donate their kidneys for financial incentive, particularly in developing countries where the poverty rate is high, resulting in numerous reports of human trafficking as a source of organs. This troubling issue was the topic of a session during the American Society of Nephrology's 41st Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In April 2008, The Transplantation Society and International Society of Nephrology convened an international summit of more than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from around the world to address unethical practices related to transplantation. Practices include organ trafficking (the illicit sale of human organs), transplant commercialism (when an organ is treated as a commodity), and transplant tourism (when organs given to patients from outside a country undermine the country's ability to provide organs for its own population). The Declaration of Istanbul was born from this meeting and sets forth recommendations to help eliminate organ trafficking. The Declaration advises countries to implement programs to prevent organ failure and provide organs to meet the transplant needs of its residents from donors within their own populations. Maximizing deceased organ donation is also recommended. ASN published The Declaration of Istanbul in the September 2008 print issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

During the Renal Week session on this topic, members of The Declaration of Istanbul Steering Committee presented the background, rationale and recommendations from the summit. National and international leaders in the field will discuss the implications of the Declaration.

"We are concerned about this issue and feel it's important for Renal Week attendees to understand the severity of organ trafficking and the implications of the Declaration of Istanbul," says William E. Harmon, MD, of Children's Hospital in Boston, MA, and a co-moderator of the session.

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The session, entitled "No to Organ Trafficking and Tourism: An In-Depth Discussion Regarding the Declaration of Istanbul," was presented as a Basic and Clinical Science Symposium on Saturday, November 8, 2008.

ASN understands the importance of this issue and is publishing an article in the November 2008 issue of the CJASN, which finds that people traveling to other countries to receive kidney transplants experience more severe post-transplant complications and a higher incidence of acute rejection and severe infections. The article, by Jagbir Gill, MD, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, CA, and his colleagues, entitled "Transplant Tourism in the United States: A Single Center Experience," is currently available online at cjasn.asnjournals/, and in the November 2008 print issue of CJASN.

ASN is a not-for-profit organization of 11,000 physicians and scientists dedicated to the study of nephrology and committed to providing a forum for the promulgation of information regarding the latest research and clinical findings on kidney disease. ASN Renal Week 2008, the largest nephrology meeting of its kind, provided a forum for 11,000 nephrologists to discuss the latest findings in renal research and engage in educational sessions related to advances in the care of patients with kidney and related disorders. Renal Week 2008 took place November 4 - November 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Source: Shari Leventhal
American Society of Nephrology

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