"Iran has eliminated waiting lists for kidneys entirely by paying its citizens to donate."
"Millions of people suffer from kidney disease, but in 2007 there were just 64,606 kidney-transplant operations in the entire world. In the U.S. alone, 83,000 people wait on the official kidney-transplant list. But just 16,500 people received a kidney transplant in 2008, while almost 5,000 died waiting for one."
"To combat yet another shortfall, some American doctors are routinely removing pieces of tissue from deceased patients for transplant without their, or their families', prior consent. And the practice is perfectly legal."
"The shortage of organs has increased the use of so-called expanded-criteria organs, or organs that used to be considered unsuitable for transplant. Kidneys donated from people over the age of 60 or from people who had various medical problems are more likely to fail than organs from younger, healthier donors, but they are now being used under the pressure."
"Already, the black market may account for 5% to 10% of transplants world-wide."
"Only one country, Iran, has eliminated the shortage of transplant organs—and only Iran has a working and legal payment system for organ donation." (although the payment system works mainly through the government)
"The Iranian system and the black market demonstrate one important fact: The organ shortage can be solved by paying living donors. The Iranian system began in 1988 and eliminated the shortage of kidneys by 1999. Writing in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2007, Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker and Julio Elias estimated that a payment of $15,000 for living donors would alleviate the shortage of kidneys in the U.S. Payment could be made by the federal government to avoid any hint of inequality in kidney allocation. Moreover, this proposal would save the government money since even with a significant payment, transplant is cheaper than the dialysis that is now paid for by Medicare's End Stage Renal Disease program."
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Should People Be Allowed To Sell Their Kidneys And Other Organs?
This came up in one of my classes this week when we discussed a chapter from the book The Economics Of Public Issues. Alex Tabarrok had a good article on this in the 1-9/10-2010 edition of the WSJ, p. W1. It was called The Meat Market. Here are some interesting exerpts: