Tissue Donation A Growing Billion Dollar Business

Originally published on July 16, 2012 6:22 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

On our program tomorrow, we explore the fast-growing and lightly regulated industry of human tissue donation. Many of us don't often think about skin, cartilage, and bone when we check the box to become an organ donor. It's usually our heart or our lungs we imagine giving to a needy recipients. But tissue donations have turned into a billion-dollar business.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you die, you don't need your skin anymore. But that six-year-old burn victim lying in the hospital could really use it.

CORNISH: Tomorrow, we'll meet a man who approved the donation of his daughter's tissue. He then went to work in the industry and was disturbed by what he encountered.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Instead of being stewards of the gift, instead of recovering what the family wanted and treating each donor with the ultimate in respect, the company was actually looking at each donor as a profit machine; as nothing more than raw resources. And it was our job to take as much of those resources as we possibly could.

CORNISH: More tomorrow as we investigate the world of human tissue donation on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.