The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where's My Organ?

The illegality of selling organs is deadly in so very many ways:

Transplant centers are artificially high profit centers because they capture some of the rents generated by the shortage of organs. As a result, there are too many transplant centers in the United States and each center performs too few transplants. Practice makes perfect so when a transplant center performs only a few operations a year lives are lost.

Medicare requires that transplant centers perform 12 transplants a year to be certified but many programs are in violation of that standard with little consequence. Medicare is even thinking of reducing the standard from 12 per year to 9 in 30 months. As one specialist says "I wouldn't take my car to be serviced by someone who repaired nine cars over the past three years. Would anyone do that?"


  • It's interesting to compare organ donation and blood donation. I've never heard of anyone dying because they were unable to get a blood transfusion, so it seems like altruism is doing a good enough job keeping the blood supply at a reasonable level. Giving blood while you're alive is more work than signing a piece of paper giving someone permission to harvest your organs after you're dead, but it seems to be more popular. Of course, you can give blood over and over while you can only donate organs once, so both activities might be equally unpopular.

    On a personal note, I've been a semi-regular blood donor for most of my adult life, but I only became an official organ donor a few months ago when I applied for a new driver's license. Maybe the reason that so few people sign up to be organ donors is because you have to set it up though the DMV.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:03 PM  

  • I think it is just discomfort. Perhaps a stronger public perception campaign is needed that directly addresses that. On the other hand, it certainly doesn't encourage people that hospitals charge so much for it and get prestige and such while the donors get nothing.

    The original Washington Post article is worth reading.

    By Blogger Scott H, at 5:09 PM  

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