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Transplantation. 2004 Jul 27;78(2):194-7.

Starting a crossover kidney transplantation program in the Netherlands: ethical and psychological considerations.

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Erasmus University Medical Center, Department of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Rm. cf-228, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands


On April 15th, 2003, the first crossover kidney transplantation took place in The Netherlands. In September of the same year, a national database was established to facilitate kidney exchange between two donor-recipient couples. During 2004, kidneys from living donors will be exchanged between the seven university medical centers in The Netherlands. One of the conditions for successfully implementing this program was the need to address the ethical and psychologic implications involved. In this article we will discuss the ethical and psychologic considerations that are accompanying the practical preparations for the first Dutch crossover transplantation program. We identified five topics of interest: the influence of "donation by strangers" on the motivation and willingness of donor-patient couples, the issue of anonymity, the loss of the possibility of "medical excuses" for unwilling donors, the view that crossover is a first step to commercial organ trade, and the interference with existing organ donation programs. We concluded that whether viewed separately or in combination, these issues do not impede the efficient organization of a crossover program or raise worrying ethical issues.

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