VA May Help Veterans Find Needed Organs

Over 600 veterans waiting for kidney transplants could receive very good news next month. The Pittsburgh Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital transplant center, along with 3 other locations may very well have a new way to find matching organs for those veterans in need.

Paired kidney exchange is a new and growing practice. Here is how it works: usually people in need of organs go to their family or first to find someone who matches and can donate. If there are no matches, that friend or family donates to a pool of recipients. It is hoped that by doing this it will create a series of new kidneys available for kidney transplants.

William Gunnar, the National Director of Surgery for the Veterans Health Administration is considering allowing the VA to join the practice. Before he makes any decision whether the VA will go forward with the paired kidney exchange, he demands ethical and legal reviews of the practice. His review is expected to be concluded this month. There are 4 VA hospitals performing kidney transplants: 

  • Pittsburgh;
  • Nashville;
  • Iowa City; and
  • Portland.

There are 194 veterans waiting for kidneys at the Pittsburgh VA hospital alone yet that site only performs approximately 40 transplants every year. Kidney transplants save money as the more transplants are performed, the less money the VA spends on dialysis.

According to a 2007 federal law, paired kidney exchanges does not equate to selling organs. Gunner, however, still wants to receive a legal opinion before giving the green light on letting the VA go ahead with the program. There are many steps between now and allowing the VA to participate in a paired kidney exchange. The quicker the program gets approved, the quicker veterans in need get help.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.