Organ Donation Shortage – Problem -Solution

When receiving a driver’s license in the United States, there is a section on the back in which it asks if the licensed driver would like to become an organ donor. Most people overlook this option. Nothing is really pushed forth for people wanting to become organ donors. Today in the U. S, thousands of people need organ transplants. Unfortunately, there is a growing shortage of donated organs. Many people die every year because there are not enough organs ready for transplant. Resulting, there is an extremely long waiting list of people hoping that they will be the next ones to get called to receive an organ.

For a lot of those people, they die waiting on that list. If more people would become donors, there would be a lot more organs available for the ones in need. There have been many ideas on how to solve this problem. Rather it being an organ donor to receive an organ, some sort of point system, or financial incentives. (Calne, 2010) Offering financial incentives to potential organ donors, would solve the organ donation shortage in America. Organ transplantation started in the mid- 1950’s with a kidney transplant between identical twins.

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After the successful operation, it started the idea of widespread organ donation between two participants (Calne, 2010). Today, a living volunteer can donate a kidney, half of a liver or even a lobe of a lung (Calne, 2010). The process starts by one of two ways. If the person is donating to a relative/friend, the both of them go into the doctor, and tests are done to make sure the donator’s organ is healthy, and a match for the recipient. Then the both of them would undergo surgery and the donation process would begin.

If a person wants to donate to an organization to help anyone in need, they would have to go into an organization, fill out forms, go through tests at the doctors, and then undergo the surgical process (Becker, 2009). Denny Hile, father of Debbie Rice was one of many who underwent this process. Denny was a kind, positive, loving person. When he was just 52 years old, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He went through a triple by-pass surgery and that still wasn’t enough to keep him healthy. So he was put on the heart transplant waiting list.

After 17 months of waiting, he finally received a call that a heart was ready for transplant. After being airlifted to the hospital and being prepped for surgery, Denny was informed that the heart was no longer viable for transplant. So once again, he was put back on the waiting list. After 3 more months passed by, Denny’s health caught up with him, and he passed away. He died waiting on a second chance at life. Unfortunately, that time didn’t come soon enough (Rice, 2009). Problem Organ donation is becoming a growing problem in the United States.

Each year, the number of organs needed exceeds the number of organs donated. There becomes a long waiting list to receive organs, and sometimes the wait is longer than the time left to live. Today in the U. S, 104,748 patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant, while more than four thousand people are added to the list daily (National, 2011). Every 11 minutes another person needs an organ transplant, that’s 135 people each day. While only about 75 people receive an organ daily; 19 people die from waiting on a transplant every day (National, 2011).

There is a continuously growing waiting list on organ transplants, and nothing is changing. For years, there has been an organ shortage and the numbers aren’t getting any smaller. Every day people are dying because they are stuck with their name on a list, hoping that they are the next ones in line. That can be a scary thought, knowing that there is such a long waiting list, and subconsciously knowing that the numbers are not in favor of receiving an organ in time. Patients who need an organ transplant should not have to die, because there is an organ shortage.

As it stands right now, financially compensating organ donors is illegal. The National Organ Transplant Act, passed in 1984, states that human organs cannot be exchanged “for valuable consideration,” meaning something of monetary value (Satel, 2006). If this law was to be changed, there would be plenty of factors that went into financially compensating someone for the gift of an organ. Without potentially creating an organ market, there would be some deciding factors when it comes to paying each individual for their organ donation.

Medical examiners would screen every potential donor to see if they are healthy, and financially stable enough to donate (Becker, 2009). This would eliminate the people who are just looking to gain money, not focused on the great gift they are giving. Solution Dr. Mortisugu, surgeon, says that organ donation is the “ultimate act of human kindness”. (Brody, 2007) So, why aren’t people donating? Let’s be honest, America is a selfish country. Many people are afraid of the surgery that comes along with donation. Although donation comes with a huge moral reward, it comes with no personal gain.

Many professionals are saying that a good way to get people to donate is offer some sort of financial reward. Many Americans, are more willing to do something, if it will benefit them personally. That is a known fact. So, offer them something that will affect themselves, and many more people will hop on the donation bandwagon. If the donor’s donated organ is functional and available for transplant, it has been discussed that possibly paying for unexpected related hospital expenses, giving monetary value to the donor, or if they do not have health insurance, get them a form of it, and they will have it for life.

Others suggest that people can give their organs in exchange for tax breaks, guaranteed health insurance, college scholarships for their children, or deposits in their retirement account. These are all possible options of financial gain for a donor (Zolor, 1999). The first reason that compensating organ donors would be beneficial is that it could prevent the loss of monetary value to the donor. Organ donation requires a surgical procedure. There are rare but potential risks when giving an organ.

When something goes wrong, there are more expenses to be covered, such as additional surgery, extra hospital stays, or even lifelong treatment (Tabarrok, 2010). If something was to go wrong, if donors were paid to give their organs to those in need, more of these expenses would be covered. Another reason why it is beneficial to pay organ donors is that other forms of bodily fluids are being sold for monetary value. In different states of the U. S, you can purchase/sell hair, blood, semen, and fertile eggs legally (Becker, 2009). Although these procedures don’t unusually require surgery, it is still the same concept of donating an organ.

People are receiving the gift of another human’s body, and the donor is being compensated for it. There is no huge shortage in any of these areas, and less people are not dying from a need of blood, because there is no restriction on the compensation for giving blood. In today’s society a person can be paid to become a surrogate, or even a prostitute, but not an organ donor. Another reason why it would be beneficial to pay organ donors is it would force organ donors to sign their registry cards. Any talk of benefiting one person leads to many people taking action.

In August, Michigans secretary of state- Ruth Johnson proposed a new theory that involved people benefiting from becoming a\n organ donor. For years, Michigan has been ranked one of the worst states for organ donation (Michigan organ, 2011). Since the speech from the secretary of state, for the last three consecutive months, registrations to become an organ donor have doubled in digits (Michigan, 2011). This is extremely important because studies show that each donor alone has the potential to save eight lives, and enhance the lives of at least fifty.

While the United States explores other countries who do not have this problem, such as Iran, Israel, and Singapore, specialists have been adopting similar ideas to propose to the U. S. In an effort to both encourage and reward organ donation, the Pennsylvania state legislature in 1995 passed a law that approved a $3,000 stipend for the family of a deceased organ donor to help pay for that donor’s funeral. Now, even though the reward is only $300, it has reduced the waiting list for organs dramatically (Michigan organ).

In Singapore, donors are paid as much as 50,000 Singapore dollars (almost US$36,000) for their organs. Iran has eliminated waiting lists for kidneys entirely by paying its citizens to donate (The Meat Market). Iran is the only country so far to completely eliminate the organ donation shortage. The Iranian system and the black market prove one fact: The organ donation shortage can be solved by doing one thing- paying each donor. The Iranian system began in 1988 and eliminated the shortage of kidneys by 1999. If this system was inducted into the United States, it could potentially save thousands of lives.

Again, it will be beneficial to pay organ donors because it is extremely more expensive for the government to pay for dialysis for patients waiting on a kidney, then to just pay someone to give them one. In, the U. S thousands of people are put on a dialysis machine daily. Dialysis already is an entitlement that is $72,000 a year. Even if donors were offered $50,000 in tax credits and the government paid for the costly medications that a recipient must take later, there would be a net lifetime savings for the government (Satel, 2006). If the government could potentially save money, then this could be beneficial for everyone.

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. 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 (Tabarrok, 2010). Critics The first big critic to compensating organ donors is it is a slippery slope to creating a market. “By having a monetary value to this, you are potentially in risk of having a meat market” (Calne, 2010).

Legislators and doctors believe that by adding compensation to the equation, that anyone will be selling their kidneys and other available organs. They argue that the quality of the organs will decrease. They believe that by allowing anyone to potentially sell an organ,that the customs and lifestyles that some people live by would affect their organs health, and that their lifestyles would be potentially risky to the quality of organs. Even if compensation for organs becomes legal, the same process that occurs now when going to donate still stands. Tests are still taken, and the organ is still treated as if it was just a gift.

Therefore, the organ is not lower quality just because people would be paid for it. The second critic to paying organ donors is that it exploits the poor. They believe that essentially the poor would be induced to sell their organs to the middle class and rich (Becker, 2009). Although, how would this harm the poor? They would essentially be improving their own welfare. Just because they are poor in money, does not necessarily make their organs any less quality than the rich or middle class. Therefore, it is making their organs just as valuable as any other economic class.

Another critic to the organ donation shortage is that it will be too expensive to pay every donor for their donation (Tabarrok, 2010). Although, it was discussed that dialysis is way more expensive than paying the donors there is another reason why it is not too expensive. The donation of organs is such a precious gift that even if getting monetary value for it is priceless. From a personal standpoint, one of my good friends, Josh Tolan passed away two years ago. He was only 18 years old. He was in a tragic car accident, and was pronounced brain dead two days after the accident.

He was such a loving, caring guy and even though he had not signed his donor card, his parents decided to donate his organs. His heart went to a little girl, his kidneys to an athlete, and his liver to one of his own relatives. His parents did not receive monetary value for the donation of his son’s organs. Although, they will always have the priceless gift of seeing these people live their lives through the power of Josh’s organs. Another critic says that paying or selling organs is distasteful. They state that it is immoral and wrong to pay or receive monetary value for something as vital as an organ. Satel, 2010) Well, As the International Forum for Transplant Ethics put it: “The well-known shortage of kidneys for transplantation causes much suffering and death. If we are to deny treatment to the suffering and the dying, we need better reasons than our own feelings of disgust. ” (Satel, 2006). Conclusion In conclusion, donors should be financially compensated their donation of their organs. It would extremely benefit the United States if action was pushed forth on this issue. The organ donation shortage is an issue that continues to be overlooked.

The world- wide shortage will continue to worsen, until action is taken. It hurts to know, that since the issue was first recognized in 1994, millions of people have died waiting for something to be done. It can’t wait any longer; this is a problem that needs to be fixed now. By financially compensating organ donors, you could potentially cut out the organ shortage in America. Some people may think it sounds far-fetched or immoral, but not taking action at all is more immoral. We are letting thousands of people lose their lives, when there could be a solution. Making this issue more prevalent could save thousands of lives.


Becker, G. (2009). Allowing the sale of organs will increase the number of donations. Retrieved from Opposing Viewpoints. Brody, J. (2007, August). The solvable problem of organ shortages. The New York Times. Retrieved from Calne, R. (2010). Organ transplantation has come to age. Science progresses. Retrieved from Academic OneFile.

How donation works. (2010). Gift of Life Michigan. Retrieved from Michigan organ donor registrations surge for the third consecutive month. (2011, August). Retrieved from InfoTrac National Kidney Foundation. (2011). Retrieved from Satel, S. (2006, May). Death’s waiting list. The New York Times. Retrieved from Satel, S. (2010) Is it ever right to sell and buy human organs? Retrieved from General OneFile. Rice, D. (2009). Father dies waiting on a heart transplant. Donate Life Ohio. Retrieved from Tabarrok, A. (2010, January). The meat market. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http:// Zoler, M. (1999). Cash rewards for organs proposed. Retrieved from Academic OneFile.

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