Rob Stein's Sept. 23 front-page article on people looking for organ donations through the Internet was a balanced, thought-provoking piece about one of the largest issues facing those of us who deal with organ transplants.

People will go to great lengths to save their life or that of a loved one, but circumventing the national allocation system means someone gets an organ that may have saved the life of someone else in greater medical need.

The Washington Regional Transplant Consortium is the federally designated nonprofit organization for this area. It works with local hospitals to facilitate donations and transplantations, following all the regulations for organ allocation as established by the United Network for Organ Sharing.

More than 2,200 people in this area are waiting for the gift of life. An allocation system that is equitable and worthy of trust is critically important to them and to 88,000 other patients across the country.

Organ allocation from deceased donors matches organs to waiting patients who are the best medical match, and, in most cases, to those who are the sickest. The waiting list is blind; it does not consider race, ethnicity, profession, religion, political views, financial status or any other factor.

This system suffers when organs are donated to those who have the money to be listed on an Internet matching site or who have the marketing savvy to purchase a billboard. In addition, soliciting a living donation without taking steps to protect the rights of donors is a dangerous path.

Blood donors don't ask who will get their blood, because they know that it will be used to help someone in need. They give because it is the right thing to do. Saying yes to organ, eye and tissue donation is the right thing to do too because it gives someone in need a second chance at life.

CINDY SPEAS

Director of Community Affairs

Washington Regional Transplant Consortium

Falls Church