An interesting article in Clinical Transplantation, and discussed in Science Daily, concerns research into the rise of so-called "good Samaritan" websites permitting those waiting for kidney transplants to solicit donations.
The rise of living donors is interesting; until I read this article, I had no idea that 38% of kidney transplants in the USA were involving live donors.
It seems that as medical science pushes people in the direction of live donors, side-effects such as the "Good Samaritan" website must be anticipated.
This is particularly so where some kidney conditions (such as mine) have genetic causes, thereby ruling out donation from one's family / relatives.
I personally have grave reservations about the "Good Samaritan" concept, on the basis that anything that distorts a purely medical judgement on appropriateness of prospective donation is to be discouraged.
But hey - if people are pushed to the "live donor" option, then this type of website will increase.
You're right that would-be recipients are being pushed toward living donation, but it's not science doing the pushing, but the business of medicine. There's simply more profit in two surgeries as opposed to one, and instead of being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, the surgeries can be scheduled with the surgeon's convenience in mind.
What always seems to be lost in these discussions is the care and well-being of the living donor. Despite public perception, relinquishing a kidney or 60-75% of a liver is not akin to donating a pint of blood. People die - 4.4 every year in the US within 12 months of surgery, according to OPTN. And many more suffer permanent, debilitating complications (nerve damage, hernias, adrenal dysfunction, pancreatitis, on and on). An additional 20-30%, depending on which study you believe, experience depression, anxiety and PTSD post-surgery yet not a single transplant center offers support services or aftercare.
Worse, there is no long-term comprehensive data on living donors' health and well-being. The transplant industry has used living donors since 1954 but didn't even bother to collect a social security number until 1994. OPTN has required one-year of follow-up since 2000 but 40% of living donors are 'lost to follow-up' within six months and another 40% by the year end mark. Why? Because 78% of transplant centers prefer to foist their living donors off on their primary care physician for follow-up. Some transplant centers have reported ALL of their living donors as 'lost' and yet they continue profit from living donor transplants.
Good Samaritan websites are dangerous because they allow desperate would-be recipients (or their loved ones) to take advantage of generous, well-meaning people. The transplant industry has failed to intervene because while they may find it distasteful, they still profit from the successful solicitation.