Dear Abby: I am enclosing a copy of an article that appeared in the Baltimore Sun. It states that a Florida woman had donated her son's organs, but instead of being thanked for her humanitarian efforts, she received a bill from the hospital for $41,000 . . . "the cost of keeping her son alive so the organs could be removed."

The article went on to say that there have been vague promises that a donor bank may eventually pay much of the $41,000, but (the mother) had received no guarantees, and she's now struggling because a lien has been placed on her son's estate.The article reported that the $10,000 in insurance money that could pay for the funeral could not be used because the hospital had a lien on it, which is standard operating procedure for the hospital.

Abby, this is appalling. And it brought to mind that we and thousands of your other devoted readers listened to your advice and joined The Living Bank. We feel that you should investigate this terrible injustice and determine what really happened. Your readers would like to know the facts - either pro or con - about organ donor programs. Especially the one you championed.

- Carl E. and Marie K. Huebner,


Dear Carl and Marie Huebner: Yours was one of many letters I received voicing concern, so although the article did not concern the Living Bank (which I do promote), I called its director, Bruce Conway, to ask for more information. He replied:

Dear Abby: Thank you for providing us the opportunity to correct for your readers, and the general public, the misunderstanding concerning the Florida mother who was supposedly charged for donating her son's organs. I have been in contact with Les Olson, the director of the University of Miami Procurement Center who procured the organs, and he advised me that the perceived problem presented in a national news story has been resolved.

The 24-year-old man was involved in an automobile accident on Sept. 12, 1993, and was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries. He was admitted to the trauma center, where all efforts were made to save his life. Upon arriving at the hospital, the mother was advised that her son was brain-dead and on a respirator, and she was asked to donate his organs. She gave consent, and the medical procurement team proceeded with the testing and procurement. She was advised the next day that five vital organs had been utilized and five recipients' lives had been saved due to her generous consent.

The hospital sent an unaudited bill to her within a week, which is standard procedure. The organ procurement center was contacted; they reviewed the statement and will pay 95 percent of it. The remaining portion of the bill was for the trauma room treatment prior to the donation while attempting to save her son's life. (His medical insurance will cover this portion.)

Please continue to stress that a donor family does not incur any more medical expenses than they would if their loved one were not a donor. The mother continues to be a strong advocate of organ donation and gains a great deal of comfort in knowing that her son made it possible for five people to live.

Again, thank you very much for your continued support of organ tissue donation. You will never know how many lives you have saved.

- Bruce Conway,

executive director,

the Living Bank, Houston

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Dear Abby: My husband and I are "seniors" who, over the years, have received many wonderful gifts from our children. We are hard to buy for because we have more "things" than we can use.

Recently, we returned from a short trip to find that our children had hired a cleaning crew to give our home a thorough cleaning! They did the floors, walls, woodwork and windows. I don't know which sparkled more - the kitchen floor or our eyes!

No gift could have been more thoughtful - or appreciated.

- M.M.C. in Richland, Wash.

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