Too poor for transplant: Finance and insurance issues in transplant ethics

Kyle Alexander Laurentine*, Katrina A. Bramstedt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: Donor organs are a scarce gift. Additionally, transplantation is very expensive and the United States lacks universal health insurance for all citizens. These facts combine to make personal finance and insurance some of the criteria for wait listing at US transplant centers. Previous research has shown that the poor and the uninsured (as well as women and nonwhites) are less likely to receive a transplant. Living donor candidates are also limited by the US insurance system. OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of finance and insurance variables on access to transplant and living donation. DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive study of ethics consultation data contained in a research registry approved by the institutional review board at California Pacific Medical Center. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: This study analyzes research registry data from a large community hospital in Northern California that serves patients from California, Oregon, and Nevada. The registry data are derived from transplant ethics consultations occurring between January 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: This study explores the restriction of access to transplantation and of participation in living donation. RESULTS: More than a quarter of all transplant ethics consultation reports described the restriction of transplant-related treatment for reasons rooted in finance or insurance. Individuals on the recipient side and on the donor side were hindered with regard to access. Insurance status and personal ability to pay significantly affect access to transplantation in the United States, and this theme is a frequent feature of ethics consultations at California Pacific Medical Center.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Transplantation: the journal for procurement and clinical transplant professionals
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


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