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Donor Agency Stops Donating Skin

April 19, 2000

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Human body parts donated in Arizona will no longer be given to a for-profit company to use for cosmetic purposes, the state’s organ and tissue donation agency announced.

Donor Network of Arizona, the agency that coordinates all organ and tissue donations in the state, said Tuesday it hastened the decision in reaction to outrage over reports this week in The Orange County Register in California detailing profits made from donated body parts.

Donor Network feared already scarce donations would drop in response to the articles.

``If someone donates today, they can be 100 percent certain that all tissue will go toward a life-enhancing, legitimate medical use,″ said Scott Davis, chief operating officer of Donor Network.

Among other findings, the Register said burn victims awaiting skin from tissue banks often find themselves in line behind people signed up for cosmetic surgery because it’s less profitable to sell skin in the burn market.

Federal regulations ensure that vital organs such as kidneys, livers and hearts go to patients in greatest need, but skin is not covered by law.

Jack Shafer, a Tucson paralegal who declared himself a donor on his Arizona’s driver’s license, expressed concern.

``I don’t mind giving away my heart and lungs and liver and kidneys _ I know how they’ll be used,″ he said. ``But does this mean that someone can come in and take my skin and give it to a cosmetic company for a model’s lips? I don’t want that. That’s not what I intended when I checked the donor box.″

Donor Network of Arizona’s statement said it has halted donating skin to a company that makes two products used in ``some elective plastic surgery procedures.″

The company, Collagenesis, based in Massachusetts, uses skin for several medical needs, but some products also are used for purely cosmetic purposes.

``We were not comfortable with the cosmetic applications,″ Davis said. ``It may appear we are doing this in reaction to newspaper articles, but in fact they only hastened the decision.″

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