Organ Donation Ads on Craigslist?

U.S. Federal law prohibits selling human organs and tissues. Any compensation beyond medical expenses can stick the family with fines or jail time. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration, the purpose of the law "was to make sure the wealthy do not have an unfair advantage for obtaining donated organs and tissues."

"In other countries people buy and sell organs like its shoes and socks," said Brian. "We've been considering going to Iran, to India, to Indonesia, to get the surgery done. But UCLA has not recommended that."

The Golbads aren't alone in their desperation. When a person is told they have kidney failure, their doctor usually presents the family with three standard options. Find a family member or friend who can give you a kidney, go on dialysis, or go on dialysis and get in line behind the 78,190 people currently waiting for a kidney.

According to Joel Newman, spokesman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, even if a person manages to get a kidney from the waiting list, their chances of a healthy survival diminish with each year they wait on dialysis.

"The waiting list is growing, and it is growing at a considerable rate," said Newman.

With an aging population, the increase in obesity and diabetes, "Kidney disease has become more common," he added.

The Golbads also face the reality that a kidney from a deceased person off a waiting list fares worse than a kidney from a living donor.

Yet, despite all the advantages of finding a living kidney donor outside of the family, there is no national waiting list for living donors.

Finding Your Own Kidney

That reality prompted people like Jennifer, Cynthia, and Heather Flood of New York City to search for their own kidney donor online to save their father. It took more than a year, but the Flood sisters found a hospital willing to perform a stranger-altruistic donor transplant and a suitable donor for their father, Danny Flood.

Now the Flood sisters have started their own online kidney registration Web sitefor people to find living donors.

Their registry has located just 28 U.S. hospitals that will perform stranger-altruistic donor kidney transplant. Many shy away from dealing with donor volunteers who may have questionable motivations.

Georgette Saiid of Brunswick, N.Y., also successfully found a kidney donor through Craigslist. Some Canadians -- Jewel Calibaba, and Lois Wilson of British Columbia -- have started Craigslist advertisements and Facebook pages to find kidney donors.

Another family has taken the initiative to start a national list of kidney donors that could include kidney swaps or "paired exchanges."

"If you know if you need a kidney and you don't have a compatible donor, you do whatever you can," said Garet Hil, founder of president of the National Kidney Registry, which aims to pool all family donors and patients into one registry to ensure more people can receive kidneys.

Hil founded the registry after going through 15 different potential donors before finding a suitable match for his 10-year-old daughter, who was suffering from kidney failure.

"Twenty to 30 percent of the people on the waiting list will not have a living donor match with family and friends," said Hil.

Meanwile Ali Goldbar and his family in Los Angeles wait for a phone call or an e-mail with news of the miracle that will save a life.

"Everyone has been very supportive. Everyone is just spreaking the word that we need a kidney donor," said Brian. "I've been telling family, friends, co-workers, anyone."

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