Can a doctor really not donate his own organ to a patient?

In this episode of House I’m watching, Wilson’s blood is a match for his patient, and his patient needs a kidney transplant immediately. But Wilson says he can’t donate to his own patient.

Is that true?

If so, why can’t a doctor donate to his own patient? I recognize there need to be rules about what a doctor can and can’t do for his patients in order to avoid potential abuses. But for some reason I’m having a hard time seeing what the potential for abuse is in this case. This is probably because I am such a naive innocent.

If doctors could, people could argue that they should…and it only goes downhill from there.

Here’s an article that talks about the difficulties of physicians who treat close friends. In brief, there are five problem areas: omission of important information by the doctor or patient, because they assume it’s already known; assumptions about how the patient will react to information; breaches of doctor-patient confidentiality; loss of objectivity; and blurred boundaries.

It seems to me that blurred boundaries was Wilson’s problem. As an oncologist, he sees people who would benefit from new livers, lungs, kidneys, etc. No one would expect him to donate to an ordinary patient, even if it would be a better alternative than chemotherapy. Likewise, if if I needed a liver transplant, it’s one thing to ask my family or friends, but quite another to ask my doctor.

A small nitpick - the patient wanted Wilson’s Liver not Kidney in that episode of House.

Also, at least in the context of the show, it wasn’t true that Wilson could not donate part of his liver. He ended up doing so.