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Man denied transplant because of his Web site

Alex Crionas will not receive a new kidney because he solicited for donors on the Internet.

Associated Press
Published February 24, 2005

ORANGE CITY - A Tampa organ donor institute has denied giving a kidney transplant to a man because he had a Web site seeking a donor.

Alex Crionas had planned to receive a kidney from Patrick Garrity after they became friends last year. They went through blood and tissue testing last month at LifeLink HealthCare Institute, which coordinates the transplant program for Tampa General Hospital. They were declared physically compatible for the operation.

Then Crionas, 28, got a letter this month from LifeLink, a nonprofit that links patients and donors, telling him his request for surgery was rejected because of his Web site.

"I was dumbfounded," Crionas said. "We didn't even meet through the Web site."

Though it is common for patients to find donors among family members, the organizations that head the nation's organ procurement program try to make sure people are not illegally buying or selling organs.

The United Network for Organ Sharing and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons both released statements last fall opposing solicitation of organs through Web sites, billboards or media outlets.

"There is an order and hierarchy established for transplants," said Danny Hawke, senior vice president of LifeLink. "There are a lot more people needing organs than donating them."

Crionas was diagnosed with progressive kidney disease in 1995 when he was 19 and attending college in New York. He was placed on dialysis after his kidneys failed in September 2003. His health, blood type and lack of tissue matches among relatives place him near the bottom of the national transplant list.

In May, Crionas said, he moved to Orange City, about 30 miles north of Orlando, from Yonkers, N.Y., in hopes of getting a transplant sooner. The average wait for a kidney transplant in many southeastern states, including Florida, is less than the national average, according to UNOS.

"They say I'm subverting the system," Crionas said. "Why should I wait ... when I can take the initiative myself?"

Hawke said he could not discuss Crionas' case, but said Lifelink goes by UNOS guidelines that rank patients according to many factors, including who would obtain the greatest medical benefit, time spent waiting for a transplant and compatibility of the patient and donor.

[Last modified February 24, 2005, 00:53:06]

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