By Sam Klein
Simply put, the time has come for financial incentives for organ donation. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 110,000 people are currently waiting to receive an organ. Yet last year, there were less then 15,000 donors. In fact, 19 people die every day in the U.S, waiting for an organ, about 7,000 people every year. Right now, 33,000 people currently on the waiting list will die on the waiting list, due to the lack of organs. These facts alone are enough to conclude that there is a significant need to attain organs. Yet, the real issue lies in the fact that, in the United States, the number of patients on waiting lists has risen 313 per cent since 1988, while the number of donors has only risen 42 percent. Thus, the rate at which the demand exceeds the supply is drastically increasing. Therefore, there is an obvious need for more organs in America, which financial incentives can solve.
William Potts explains in the Monash University Law Review that, “Given that there are enough organs in existence to significantly reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the organ deficit, the time is now to consider more creative methods for increasing the supply organs. The main problem with present systems of organ donation is that people have very little incentive to donate their organs.” Therefore, we currently have the resources available to solve the problem, yet the issue is obtaining them. Michael H. Shapiro in the Capital University Law Review explains that, “The option to sell will become ‘more plausible and sometimes compelling’ once the legal barriers to sales are removed, [leading] to an overall increase in the number of transplant organs.” Thus it can be seen that once the federal government permits the use of financial incentives, the barriers will be broken and the solvency will occur. Gary S. Becker from the University of Chicago even found that with the implementation of financial incentives, kidney donations would increase 44 percent, and liver donations, 67 percent. Furthermore, a study done by the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled found that when Pennsylvania announced its program, Organ Donation Trust Fund, which provided financial incentives for organ donors, over 3 million people signed up to donate organs (thus proving that this system is appealing). In fact, since Georgia offered a reduced cost for driver’s licenses, the amount of organ donors increased by 33%. In the end, we simply cannot rely on our current methods of obtaining organs, as they are vastly inefficient. People will continue dying until stronger incentives to encourage organ donation are provided.
Furthermore, by providing financial incentives for organ donation, our nation will save money and increase the quality of life of its citizens. Transplant surgeon Arthur Matas and health policy professor Mark Schnitzler estimate that since dialysis is expensive, paying organ donors would end up saving the government $275,000 per transplant. USA Today also notes that over 350,000 patients are on dialysis each year, which allows the opportunity for our government to drastically save money, on top of the lives. Greg Becker of the University of Chicago estimates the total net savings at roughly $1.3 billion each year. With the amount of money saved, our nation will be highly better off. Jake Lindon, Professor at Florida State University notes that decreased quality of life from dialysis impose a social cost upon patients. He states that, “many (or most) of those [dialysis] patients experience energy loss, nausea, weakness, hypertension, bone disease, infections…and other problems that emanate from the treatment itself. Those numbers do not take into account the physical and emotional toll on patients, many of whom cannot work, and who as a group are 100 percent more likely than non-dialysis patients to commit suicide.” Therefore, financial incentives will not only provide the benefit of saving lives, but improving the quality of life as well. In the end, our nation needs to find more innovative methods to acquire more organs. Providing financial incentives for organ donation would saves lives, money, and increase the quality of life of many, clearly proving that this method is a must in today’s society.