Kaiser Permanente shuts transplant center

Faced with an embarrassing crisis in Northern California, the nation's largest HMO said it is closing a controversial San Francisco kidney transplant center. Over the last two weeks, The Los Angeles Times has reported a series of problems at the program which critics say led to patients on its transplant list being put at risk. Exactly what Kaiser's latest move means is open to interpretation. Last week, HHS inspectors conducted a surprise inspection of the transplant program's offices.

"I think, quite frankly, they searched their souls and they decided that it just was going to be very difficult to ensure that all the patients' needs were met," comments Cindy Ehenes, of the California Department of Managed Health Care. "They were trying to essentially fix the airplane while they were flying it." 

- read this article from the Los Angeles Times  

PLUS:  The recent focus on problems with the organ donation system is leading to renewed calls for Congress to legalize organ sales. 70,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, Sally Satel writes in the New York Times. The 1984 National Organ Transplantation Act makes it illegal to 'sell or acquire an organ for valuable consideration.' With waiting lists ridiculously long, "why shouldn't they be able to buy the organ that could save their life?" Satel asks. Article