Dear Ann Landers: Please answer this question in your column. Can a person who has had hepatitis A become an organ donor? What about diabetes or cancer? I would like to become an organ donor but need some answers first. Can you help? - Sacramento, Calif.
Dear Sacramento: According to The Living Bank, anyone can be an organ donor, depending on the condition of the organs at the time of death and the decision of the surgeons involved.
Diabetics are individually assessed. The use of organs from those who have had hepatitis A would depend on the condition of the liver. Very few procurement agencies will accept organs from those who have had hepatitis B. Organs are not accepted from AIDS patients, although a few agencies will take corneas. Cancer patients are also rarely approved as donors, but again, it depends on the spread of the disease.
No surgeon would want to use an organ for transplant if it might be infected with a life-threatening disease. Great pains are taken to ensure that transplanted organs are healthy.
Since the death of Mickey Mantle, I have received many letters asking if celebrities skip to the head of the transplant list. The answer is no. Mickey Mantle, like many others, was moved to the top of the list because his condition warranted it. However, money can make a difference.
According to Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, a person’s wealth and prestige can help him. A liver transplant costs $300,000, including an initial $10,000 to $20,000 evaluation. Either you or your insurance company must cover this cost. Affluent patients can afford to have evaluations at several centers and get on more than one waiting list. Also, transplant recipients must indicate that they are able to pay for expensive anti-rejection drugs, which must be taken for the rest of their lives.
If every healthy adult in this country became a donor, it would eliminate the tremendous shortage of available organs and everyone would get to the top of the list. And let me emphasize once again, the family of the donor does not pay for the transplant. Only the recipient pays.
If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, please write to The Living Bank, P.O. Box 6725, Houston, Texas 77265. (A dollar or two to help defray costs would be greatly appreciated.)
Dear Ann Landers: I’m writing about my mom. She has alienated our entire family because of her terrible choices of male companions. She goes for alcoholics who don’t want to work and end up living in her house. She pays all the bills and buys these loafers clothes.
Mom’s current live-in is 22 years younger than she is and has hit on other members of the family. Mom knows about this, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. She says he just likes to flirt a little, but we know he does more than flirt. He makes obvious passes.
My sister has stopped speaking to Mom, and my brother refuses to go to her house as long as the bum is there. Her craziness is breaking up the family. What can we do? - Sad in N.J.
Dear N.J.: You can do nothing but let her know you’ll be there for her when she comes to her senses. Let’s hope it’s soon. Meanwhile, please continue to visit, refrain from making derogatory statements about her choices, and let her know you love her no matter what.