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Can We Solve the Organ Shortage by Paying Living Donors?

Writing for WSJ, Alex Tabarrok explores a number of innovative solutions to the organ shortage, ranging from a system of "presumed consent," wherein all citizens are considered donors unless they choose to opt out, to "expanded-criteria organs," meaning the use of organs that might previously have been rejected. Taborrok also investigates the subject of paying living donors for their organs, both on the black market and the legit market:
Rabbis selling organs in New Jersey? Organ sales from poor Indian, Thai and Philippine donors? Transplant tourism? It's all part of the growing black market in transplants. Already, the black market may account for 5% to 10% of transplants world-wide. If organ sales are voluntary, it's hard to fault either the buyer or the seller. But as long as the market remains underground the donors may not receive adequate postoperative care, and that puts a black mark on all proposals to legalize financial compensation. ... The Iranian system and the black market demonstrate one important fact: The organ shortage can be solved by paying living donors.
Worldwide, Tabborok notes, we'll soon harvest more kidneys from living donors than from deceased ones, but financial incentives might not be the only way to motivate donors-the very concept rubs people the wrong way. I was especially intrigued by the protocol for opting out of presumed consent systems in Israel and Singapore, which Tabborok refers to as a "no give, no take" policy, which is kind of awesomely recalls the ancient "eye for an eye" policy (or in this case "no eye for no eye"). Eat your heart out, Hammurabi.Via Marginal Revolution.Photo: Audrey Tautou in Dirty Pretty Things by Laurie Sparham for The Village Voice.

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