NEW YORK: The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the group that holds the national transplant waiting list, is launching a media offensive to stop patients in need of transplants from finding organ donors on the internet.
Recent media attention for a few high-profile, patient-initiated searches has prompted dozens of copycats. UNOS is now doing media outreach, contacting reporters who cover organ donation and telling its side of the story. It is also asking hospitals to discourage matches found through individual campaigns.
But media relations is particularly key because the organization does not have the authority to stop patients from soliciting their own donors, said Annie Moore, media relations specialist at UNOS.
"All we can do is oppose those appeals," she said. "You can't really trample on anyone's freedom of speech."
Patients and organ donors are currently matched through a national transplant waiting list, which ranks based on need.
But some patients are hoping to avoid the unpredictability and long waits for donors.
Neil Diamond, who is looking for a kidney through Craig's List, told the New York Daily News that while he could likely live a decade without a kidney, his dialysis treatments leave him unable to work or play with his children. "The internet could be the new viable way to find altruistic donors," he told the paper.