The Association of Health Care Journalists is running a story this month about our investigative series on organ and tissue recovery, Donor Dilemma…
Every reporter knows the stories that organ recovery nonprofits pitch to media outlets, about donors’ families receiving praise from recipients at annual events with flowers, medals and teary speeches.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has covered these stories for years, often reporting some heartwarming stories of turning loss from death into life for someone else. But investigative reporters Andrew Conte and Luis Fabregas started wondering what happens at these organ procurement organizations the rest of the year.
The national investigation, “Donor Dilemma,” revealed that the nonprofits collected $1.2 billion in 2011 from recovering more than 80,000 organs, bones and other tissue. They paid top executives $320,000 a year on average and, in some cases, hired family members to work at their nonprofits. Other nonprofits rented a private jet, threw large retirement parties, bought Rose Bowl Tickets and held a retreat at a five-star oceanfront resort – with the federal government and taxpayers picking up part of the cost.
The only ones who cannot receive any money from this trade in human flesh and bone are the families of donors, blocked by a federal law that prohibits the transfer of anything of value for human parts. Too often, these families are struggling with medical bills and other expenses and don’t have enough money to pay for a funeral or a headstone.
You can read the rest of the story here.