To the editor: OneLegacy, the nonprofit transplant recovery program serving Southern California, exists solely to enable 3,000 generous donors and families experiencing loss to save and heal 200,000 lives each year. OneLegacy does this by ensuring the public trust that is essential for donation, so we were welcoming and transparent with the Los Angeles Times. (“In the rush to harvest body parts, death investigations have been upended,” Oct. 13)
Reporter Melody Petersen asked about 28 cases (out of some 30,000-plus Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner referrals to OneLegacy over 14 years). None of these cases (nor any in 20 years of recovery) was found by the county-licensed physician medical examiner to have interfered with the determination of cause and mechanism of death.
Nevertheless, The Times’ Oct. 13 article and its sensationalistic headline suggest otherwise and imply that life-saving recovery harms death determination.
Further, the article includes a graphic, based on a recovery agency illustration, that had prices added that are not charged or received by recovery agencies. Readers may be left with the impression that such agencies recoup huge profits from tissue recovery, especially for cosmetic purposes. In reality, OneLegacy’s partners who process tissue do not market or provide it for this purpose, and any use in this way is done by individual physicians and accounts for far less than 1% of their tissue grafts distributed in this country.
Additionally, in 2018, OneLegacy lost $197 per tissue donor while fulfilling our mission, relying on our organ recovery growth to meet our future donation investment needs.
Tragically, this message has already prompted some to remove themselves from the donor registry as their trust has been unjustly eroded. Let us hope and pray that this sensationalistic article does not lead to the death and suffering of any of the thousands of people awaiting life-saving and healing transplants.
Thomas Mone, Los Angeles
The writer is chief executive of OneLegacy.