Organ transplants

Common Sense Organ Donation Reform Proposed

A proposal to study compensating organ donors and their families: not enough, but a start.



Nowadays when a pol says that she or he is in favor of this or that "common sense" regulation or law, they are really trying to lull voters into accepting more controls over their lives and wallets. But every once in a while, a legislator actually does make a common sense proposal. One such is the Organ Donor Clarification Act introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Penn.).

At the behest of brilliant solons like then-Congressman Al Gore (D-Tenn.), Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984 which forbids people from rewarding organ donors or their families with any filthy lucre. Killing off markets in organs predictably resulted in a shortage. There are now 121,000 Americans waiting for a transplantable organ. As the press release from Cartwright's office notes, eliminating the kidney waiting list would save taxpayers well in excess of $5.5 billion per year in medical costs and billions of dollars more in savings to other social programs.

Rep. Cartwright wants to crack open the door and allow researchers to consider providing some kind of compensation to donors and their families. The Organ Donor Clarification Act would "allow government-run pilot programs to test the effect of providing non cash incentives to promote organ donation.  These pilot programs would have to pass ethical board scrutiny, be approved by HHS, distribute organs through the current merit based system, and last no longer than five years."

Non-cash, but still it's a move in the right direction.

The legislation has been endorsed by Americans for Tax Reform, American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation, American Medical Association, Fair Allocations in Research Foundation, Transplant Recipients International Organization, and WaitList Zero.

For more background see my articles, "The Case for Selling Human Organs," and "Fresh Kidneys for Sale."