LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A highly inaccurate and tragically sensationalized article in a recent edition of the Los Angeles Times is likely to lead to deaths and suffering while causing severe damage to the donation and transplantation community according to OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ procurement organization serving Southern California.
“The erroneous portrayal of the intent and process of donation and transplantation threatens to add to the 20 people who die each day in the United States while waiting for an organ transplant by creating unsubstantiated mistrust in the system that has been carefully developed over many years,” said Tom Mone, chief executive officer of OneLegacy. “Sadly, readers have already fallen prey to these misrepresentations and have chosen to remove their donor registrations, meaning harm has already been done to those needing lifesaving and healing transplants.”
The article in question was authored by reporter Melody Petersen and appeared in the Times’ Oct. 13 edition with a follow-up article the next day. Mone met with Petersen in early 2018 as she was researching her article to “open the books” of the donation process and provided detailed evidence that demonstrated the clinical, ethical and legal practices that OneLegacy followed on the two dozen donor cases she had identified and all donations. Yet despite this transparency, Mone says that Petersen relied on “unfounded and easily discredited accusations,” all of which the L.A. Times editors have been made aware. Among these inaccuracies:
- The Los Angeles Times intentionally altered a diagram provided to them by a California-based recovery organization to include the listing of fictitious prices and failed to note the meaningful changes when it was published.
- Petersen’s article concludes that: a) donation has interfered with determination of cause of death, b) OneLegacy recovered tissues despite concerns from investigators, and c) OneLegacy attempted to limit her access to donor information to hide these events. In reality, 100% of the two dozen cases she questioned were released for recovery by the licensed medical examiner who agreed that donation did not interfere with determination of cause of death of any of these nor in any other of the 30,000 OneLegacy coroner cases. Further, OneLegacy had specifically informed Petersen that federal Protected Health Information privacy laws prevented OneLegacy from releasing donor charts to the Times.
- Petersen portrays as suspect the 2007 National Association of Medical Examiners white paper that found zero death investigations harmed by donation. This paper prompted donation law to be made consistent with existing laws requiring physicians to determine cause of death and authorize release, rather than investigators and law enforcement personnel who are not licensed nor trained to do so.
- Petersen portrays the practice of tissue donation for cosmetic purposes as a money-making use that should prompt people to rethink their decisions to be a donor. OneLegacy’s tissue partners do not produce nor market for cosmetic use. Uncontrollable physician “off-label” cosmetic use is less than 1% of OneLegacy’s tissue recoveries … while 99+% of tissue is used to treat burns, enable post-mastectomy breast reconstruction and treat wounds that will not heal.
- Petersen speaks of OneLegacy as one of the “companies” reaping large profits from tissue donors. In point of fact, in 2018 OneLegacy received 40 times less than the Times’ manipulated graphic suggests for recoveries and actually lost $197 per tissue donor ... fulfilling its nonprofit mission.
“We can’t speculate on Petersen’s motives, reckless disregard for the truth or the number of lives that will be harmed by her egregious articles; but we were shocked to receive no response from the Times’ editorial board when we made them aware of the many inaccuracies,” said Mone.
This year OneLegacy will enable the transplantation of 1,600+ lifesaving organs, over 200,000 healing tissue transplants and more than 1,400 sight-restoring cornea transplants through its work with 200 hospitals and 11 transplant centers in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties. Yet the need for donation remains urgent with more than 113,000 Americans waiting to receive a lifesaving heart, liver, lung, kidney and/or pancreas. For more information, visit onelegacy.org.