The House on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation (HR 710) to specify that "paired" kidney donations do not violate laws prohibiting compensation for organ donations, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
The bill -- named the Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation Act, after the former Georgia representative who died of cancer last month -- was introduced in January by Norwood (R) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) to increase the number of paired kidney donations performed at hospitals each year.
In paired donations, a patient in need of an organ transplant with a willing, but medically incompatible, friend or family member is matched with a similarly incompatible pair so that both patients can receive a transplant.
Current law makes the legality of such donations questionable because of the concern that trading organs constitutes compensation.
Some hospitals refuse to perform paired donations and there is no formal matchmaking system to expand their use, AP/Newsday reports (Evans, AP/Long Island Newsday, 3/7).
Norwood estimated that the bill could save Medicaid an estimated $220,000 per transplant patient in dialysis costs (Kemper, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/7).
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that paired donations could save Medicare $500 million over 10 years in dialysis costs (AP/Long Island Newsday, 3/7).