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Specialist defends kidney transplant comments -

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Specialist defends kidney transplant comments

The World Today - Monday, 5 May , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Lindy Kerin

ELEANOR HALL: A Canberra specialist has defended his proposal to allow the buying and selling of
kidneys in Australia.

ACT nephrologist Gavin Carney says Australia's organ donation system is not working and that young
healthy people should be allowed to sell their kidneys for up to $50,000.

The International Transplant Society though has described the idea as naive and ill conceived and
transplant organisations warn that such a system would be open to abuse.

Lindy Kerin has our report.

LINDY KERIN: Every week, at least one Australian dies while waiting for a kidney transplant.

In a country that has one of the worst organ donation rates in the world, one specialist has come
up with a radical proposal.

Dr Gavin Carney from the Canberra Hospital says young, fit and healthy people should be allowed to
sell their kidneys.

GAVIN CARNEY: The proposal is not selling body parts, it's a proposal that we begin a dialogue
towards the commercialisation of kidney transplantation, not other transplantation, but kidney

The reason is, that the current wisdom has not worked in terms of trying to drum up cadaver
transplants, that is, persons who die and their relatives allow the donation of their kidney.

LINDY KERIN: Dr Carney says he has many patients who are forced to wait up to seven years for a
transplant. He says one patient has given up, and is set to travel to Pakistan to buy a kidney.

Dr Carney says his proposed would have high ethical standards and proper medical safeguards.

GAVIN CARNEY: Perhaps the best model would be that, in as much as the Government, through Medicare,
funds all renal replacement therapy, that's dialysis therapy, it would also fund the purchase of
kidneys from Australians. And the reason why that's important is that we then satisfy the medical
and ethical issues which are not satisfied when patients go to Pakistan or other places. Here in
Australia we could do it better and we could do it very well.

LINDY KERIN: But the proposal has been condemned by transplant organisations.

Kidney Health Australia says it understands the pressures on people to go overseas for transplants,
but it doesn't support the buying and selling of organs.

Professor Jeremy Chapman is the president-elect of the Transplantation Society. He's just returned
from an international conference of ethicists, lawyers and doctors from 78 countries about
transplant tourism and organ trafficking.

JEREMY CHAPMAN: The conclusion of that summit is that transplant commercialism targets the
impoverished and vulnerable donors and thus inexorably leads to (inaudible) and injustice. So, this
is a naive proposal by somebody looking after a desperate patient waiting on a waiting list, rather
than a well-considered view about the impacts of such commercialism on the poor and vulnerable in
the world.

LINDY KERIN: A Federal Government taskforce has just finished a review of organ donation system and
made more than 50 recommendations.

The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Government is yet to respond to the report, but
she says the Government won't allow people to sell their organs for profit.

NICOLA ROXON: We know that this really could put people at risk of being unfairly exploited and
we're not going to let that happen. We do know that we need urgent action in this area of organ
donation, and we are very carefully considering the 51 recommendations of a clinical review which
has just been completed, handed to us earlier this year, and we'll be taking action to implement
those recommendations, not doing something that will put people under risk of exploitation.

LINDY KERIN: But Dr Gavin Carney is defending his proposal. He says he doesn't support the illegal
trade of kidneys that can lead to exploitation, but he says a better system is needed.

GAVIN CARNEY: I don't approve of that one little bit, but I also do not agree with the fact that we
should just let people rot on dialysis, until they've been on dialysis so long they're

I am suggesting a scheme that is an ethical scheme, and a managed scheme and has due compensation
and due medical follow-up and I think it's not correct, it's just a red herring to say that poor
people will be exploited. They won't be.

ELEANOR HALL: That's ACT nephrologist Dr Gavin Carney ending Lindy Kerin's report.