Highlights• The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) congratulates The New York Times for calling attention to transplant tourism and organ trafficking.• ASN is disappointed with the article’s characterization of dialysis and failure to address opportunities to improve this lifesaving therapy.• ASN urges Congress to pass legislation to help transplant recipients and living donors.

Newswise — Washington, DC (August 19, 2014) — As a cosigner of the Declaration of Istanbul, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) congratulates The New York Times for publishing Kidneys For Sale—Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica. “The article reminds the kidney community that in the 6 years since the declaration was published, little progress has been made to prevent transplant tourism, organ trafficking, and the commercialization of transplantation,” said ASN President Sharon M. Moe, MD, FASN.

The article portrays patients receiving dialysis as “...tethered to a soul-sapping machine.” Originally designed as a bridge to transplantation, this lifesaving therapy keeps more than 500,000 people in the United States alive each day. While highlighting the shortcomings of dialysis, the article failed to mention the lack of research funding for kidney disease compared to other chronic diseases, many of which have recently seen the dramatic therapeutic advances absent in dialysis care. For example, the US government invests just $30 per patient per year in kidney research compared to more than $500 annually per patient for cancer research.

In addition, ASN is disappointed that the article did not mention transplant-related legislation that would help reduce the need for dialysis and support living donors, such as the recently enacted HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity) Act that lifted the ban on transplantation of HIV-positive organs to HIV-positive people. Currently under consideration, the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Act of 2013 would ensure that transplant recipients have lifetime access to the drugs that prevent organ rejection.

Congress is also considering the Living Donor Protection Act of 2014. This legislation would make it easier for Americans to donate kidneys and other organs by extending the Family and Medical Leave Act coverage to living donors, ensuring they obtain time off work to donate an organ, recover, and keep their jobs. “By passing this bill, Congress would help eliminate incentives for transplant tourism, organ trafficking, and the commercialization of transplantation in the United States,” stated Dr. Moe.

Founded in 1966, and with nearly 15,000 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

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