May 7, 2009—As long as
organ transplants have been medically possible, doctors and patients have been
debating the ethics of organ donation. Currently, compensating live donors is
prohibited by law. Changing that law, however, could vastly improve the
survival rate and quality of life for transplant patients, according to a new
study published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
In The Case for
Compensating Live Organ Donors, study author Jennifer Monti argues that the
deliberate choice to rely on altruism to motivate donations has been
unsuccessful and fails to reflect the advances that have been made in
“The establishment of a transparent, public market to permit
the sale of organs from live donors will transform organ procurement from a
lengthy, stressful, medically damaging waiting game into a safer, more
efficient, routine, life-saving process,” writes Monti. “Such a market would
have both economic and moral merit; it would deliver more and better organs at
less cost than alternative options, and will result in more lives saved.”
While eligibility requirements, reason for transplant, and
international organ tourism continuously resurface as difficult medical policy
issues, one issue about which there is little dispute is demand for organs far
exceeding the supply of donors. Demand for kidneys exceeds the current supply
of deceased donor organs and altruistic donors. Approximately 73,000 people sit
on the waiting list for a kidney — 18 of them will die by tomorrow and 6,000
more patients join the list every year. By 2010, over 100,000 Americans will
wait for a kidney donation.
“Moral outrage ought to be directed not at the tension
between markets and altruism, but at the needless loss of life as transplant
waiting lists continue to grow,” concludes Monti.
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public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited
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