In 2001, for the first time ever, the number of living donors exceeded the number of cadaveric donors (see Figure Three).I greatly admire and respect all who choose to donate an organ (primarily kidneys although parts of a liver can also be donated).
The American Medical Association, The American Society of Transplant Surgeons and The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) among other groups have all come out in favor of at least testing the idea of financial compensation.
Congress has recently debated several bills to this effect albeit without passage Nevertheless, I predict that as the shortage of human organs grows so will support for financial compensation.
Forward approaches involve offering some type of incentive for people to become part of an organ donor registry so that if they die under circumstances where they can donate, their organs will be recovered.
An incentive to donate, for example, could be created by something as simple as offering a discount on driver’s licenses to those who sign up to be an organ donor.
Altruism is a fine thing but it is in short supply.
We may hope for love but should plan on self-interest.Organs that could dramatically extend lives and return the sick to health are routinely wasted. The shortage of organs could be greatly alleviated, and eliminated entirely for at least some organs, if more people were to sign their organ donor cards and if more families agreed to donate after the death of a loved one.In the United States, less than one half of potential organs donors became actual organ donors (Sheehy et al. Our current organ procurement system relies solely on altruism to motivate donation.Most obviously, the shortage greatly reduces the quality of life for those on dialysis or otherwise waiting for a transplant.Another, rarely acknowledged cost of the shortage is the increased use of living donors.Incentives for organ donation can take a variety of forms.Financial compensation is the most discussed option but reciprocity proposals are another possibility that I discuss further below.The demand for organs grows as medical knowledge advances.On the supply side, improved auto safety and a falling homicide rate have reduced the base-supply of cadaveric organs (Perez-Pena 2003).Patients on the waiting list who become too sick to undergo a transplant are taken off the waiting list and their later deaths are not recorded in the official figure.Deaths on the waiting list plus exits from the list add up to more than 8000 lives a year (see Figure Two).