Friday, April 2, 2010

Free-Market Organ Sales Would Save Lives

USA Today reports on a study showing that payments to donors would significantly increase the supply of kidneys available for transplant. Such a system potentially could save thousands of lives per year, so it is perplexing that statists are so viscerally opposed. The only interpretation I can come up with - which I admit is very uncharitable - is that they are willing to let people die because they are myopically fixated on equity. No system is acceptable, in their minds, unless it results in equal death rates by income class and equal kidney donations by income class. Or am I missing a more benign explanation?

Paying people for living kidney donations would increase the supply of the organs and would not result in a disproportionate number of poor donors, a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center concludes. The study, published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, asked 342 participants whether they would donate a kidney with varying payments of $0, $10,000 and $100,000. The study called for a real-world test of a regulated payment system. ...Though it is illegal to buy or sell any organ in the USA, payments are accepted for those who become surrogate mothers, donate eggs or participate in clinical research, Halpern says. ...Last year, 6,475 people died while on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and 4,476 were waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, part of the Health and Human Services Administration. "There's no real reason why that model has to be continued," Halpern says of the current system. "There's nothing intrinsically unique about organ donation that requires it to be a truly altruistic act."

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