This paper initially considers ways of thinking about organ transplantation: Should it be treated as a catastrophic disease or as an ordinary and accepted medical procedure? The analysis then shifts to the role the government has played in influencing organ transplantation policy. The federal government's involvement initially stemmed from its role as payer for end-stage renal disease services. In recent years, the rationale for intervention has changed, and the mechanism for implementing regulatory oversight has shifted to a private network run for the government by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The government has delegated much policymaking authority to UNOS, although the author demonstrates that this is not required by the applicable legislation. The article raises questions about the relationship between UNOS and the federal government, about potential conflicts between UNOS guidelines and state laws under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, and about the ideological stance undergirding much of current federal policy in the organ transplantation arena.

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