Organ Donation Shortage – Problem -Solution

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When applying for a driver’s license in the United States, there is a section that allows licensed drivers to become organ donors. However, this option is often ignored and lacks adequate promotion to encourage participation. As a result, there is currently a growing shortage of donated organs in the U.S., leading to numerous individuals waiting for organ transplants. This limited supply results in the loss of many lives annually and creates a long waiting list for those seeking organ transplants.

Regrettably, a significant number of individuals on the organ transplant waiting list perish prior to finding a suitable organ. Enhancing the quantity of organ donors would greatly aid those who require transplants. Various proposals have been put forth to tackle this problem, including introducing a point system or providing financial incentives to motivate people to become organ donors (Calne, 2010). To overcome the scarcity of organ donations in America, one potential solution is offering monetary rewards. The field of organ transplantation originated in the mid-1950s with a prosperous kidney transplant conducted between identical twins.

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According to Calne (2010), the concept of extensive organ donation between individuals has been introduced following a successful operation. At present, donors have the option to willingly donate a kidney, half of their liver, or even a lobe of their lung. The process commences in two possible ways. If the donor is contributing to a family member or friend, both parties consult a doctor for tests that verify the organ’s condition and its compatibility with the recipient. Subsequently, surgery is performed on both individuals as the donation process initiates.

If an individual wishes to donate to a charitable organization assisting those in need, they must visit the organization’s location and complete necessary documentation. Subsequently, medical examinations are conducted, followed by surgical procedures (Becker, 2009). Denny Hile, father of Debbie Rice, underwent this aforementioned process. Denny possessed admirable traits such as kindness, optimism, and affection. At the age of 52, he received a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and subsequently underwent triple bypass surgery. Despite these efforts, his condition did not significantly improve; thus necessitating his placement on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Denny’s 17-month wait for a heart transplant came to an end when he received a call. He was swiftly taken to the hospital and prepared for surgery. However, it was later discovered that the heart was no longer usable, so Denny had to be put back on the waiting list. Despite his declining health over the next three months, Denny held onto hope for another chance at life but unfortunately passed away before that opportunity arrived in time (Rice, 2009). This unfortunate situation highlights the growing issue of organ donation in the United States.

According to National (2011), there is a shortage of available transplants in the U.S. due to the current demand for organs exceeding the supply. There are currently 104,748 patients on the waiting list for transplants, with an additional four thousand individuals being added daily. Unfortunately, because of this high demand and limited availability, some patients may not receive a transplant in time and as a result, about 19 people die each day while awaiting an organ. On average, another person joins the growing list of those in need of an organ transplant every 11 minutes – approximately 135 individuals per day. However, only around 75 people receive organs on a daily basis.

There is an ongoing, increasing waiting list for organ transplants that shows no signs of improvement. Despite this issue persisting for years, there continues to be a shortage of organs and the numbers are not decreasing. Each day, individuals are losing their lives in hopes of their name appearing higher on the waiting list. This reality can evoke fear, as it is clear that the likelihood of receiving an organ in time is not promising. It is unjust for patients in need of an organ transplant to face death due to this scarcity.

As of now, it is against the law to financially compensate organ donors. The National Organ Transplant Act, which was passed in 1984, prohibits the exchange of human organs for something valuable or monetary (Satel, 2006). If this legislation were to be modified, many considerations would need to be taken into account when providing financial compensation for organ donation. These factors would aim to prevent the establishment of an organ market while determining appropriate payment for each individual’s organ donation.

According to Becker (2009), medical examiners would examine every potential donor to determine their physical health and financial stability for donation. This would help weed out individuals who are solely motivated by monetary gain rather than the altruistic act they are engaging in. Surgeon Dr. Mortisugu (Brody, 2007) asserts that organ donation is the ultimate demonstration of compassion. However, the reluctance to donate persists in America, a country often characterized by its self-centeredness. The fear of undergoing surgery associated with donation is a common deterrent for many individuals. Despite the absence of personal gain, the immense moral satisfaction derived from donation remains significant.

According to numerous experts, offering a financial incentive is an effective method for motivating individuals to donate. It is widely acknowledged that people are more inclined to participate in something if they receive personal advantages from it. Hence, by providing a personal benefit, it is possible to attract more individuals towards making donations. For instance, suggestions have been made that covering unforeseen hospital costs, giving monetary compensation to donors, or guaranteeing health insurance for those lacking it could be potential incentives with long-lasting impacts if the donor’s organ is suitable for transplantation.

According to Zolor (1999), some propose different incentives that could motivate individuals to give their organs, such as tax breaks, guaranteed health insurance, college scholarships, or deposits in their retirement account. These options offer potential financial benefits to donors. One advantage of compensating organ donors is the prevention of any monetary loss for the donor, as organ donation involves a surgical procedure that carries small but possible risks.

By compensating organ donors, the financial burden of additional surgeries, extended hospital stays, and lifelong treatment can be alleviated (Tabarrok, 2010). Moreover, monetary compensation for organ donation is consistent with the existing practice of selling other bodily fluids, such as hair, blood, semen, and fertile eggs, which is legal in various U.S. states (Becker, 2009). While these procedures may not involve surgery like organ donation does, they share a common principle of donating a valuable bodily component.

People are receiving the gift of another human’s body and the donor is being compensated for it. There is no significant shortage in any of these areas, and fewer people are dying from a need of blood because there is no restriction on the compensation for giving blood. In our current society, individuals can be paid to become surrogates or even prostitutes, but not organ donors. Another advantage of paying organ donors is that it would incentivize them to sign their registry cards. When discussions about benefiting one person arise, it often motivates many others to take action.

Michigans secretary of state, Ruth Johnson, proposed a new theory in August linking the benefits of becoming an organ donor (Michigan organ, 2011). Michigan has long been recognized as one of the worst states for organ donation (Michigan organ, 2011). However, since Johnson’s speech, registrations to become an organ donor have consistently doubled each month for the past three months (Michigan, 2011). The significance of this increase should not be overlooked as research indicates that each individual donor has the potential to save eight lives and improve the quality of life for at least fifty people.

Despite examining nations like Iran, Israel, and Singapore, which do not face this issue, the United States has been embracing comparable concepts suggested by specialists. In an attempt to stimulate and acknowledge organ donation, the Pennsylvania state legislature approved a law in 1995 that authorized a $3,000 stipend for the deceased organ donor’s family to assist with funeral expenses. Although the reward has now dwindled to $300, it has significantly decreased the organ waiting list (Michigan organ).

Monetary compensation may be a solution for the shortage of organ donation. Singapore provides a payment of up to 50,000 Singapore dollars (equivalent to almost US$36,000) to those who donate their organs. Iran has successfully addressed kidney waiting lists by offering financial rewards for donations. Since its establishment in 1988, the Iranian system completely resolved the shortage issue by 1999, making it the only country to achieve this remarkable outcome. By implementing a similar compensation system, the United States has the potential to save numerous lives. The success of Iran’s approach and the presence of an illegal market both support the idea that offering payment can effectively resolve the shortage of organ donation.

The government can save money by offering compensation to organ donors instead of covering the expenses for dialysis treatment in kidney patients. Dialysis is a widely performed procedure in the U.S., costing $72,000 per year. Despite tax credits for donors amounting to $50,000 and recipient medication costs being taken care of by the government, there would still be significant long-term financial benefits for the government (Satel, 2006). This cost-saving measure would have positive implications for all parties involved.

According to Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker and Julio Elias, a payment of $15,000 for living donors would solve the shortage of kidneys in the U.S. They argue that this proposal would also be cost-effective for the government, as transplant is cheaper than dialysis which is currently covered by Medicare’s End Stage Renal Disease program (Tabarrok, 2010). However, critics warn that compensating organ donors could lead to the creation of a market for organs, with one critic stating that it could potentially turn into a “meat market” (Calne, 2010).

Legislators and doctors express concerns that the introduction of compensation would lead to an increase in organ sales, thereby impacting the quality of available organs. They argue that permitting anyone to sell their organs could potentially compromise the health of the organs due to individuals’ different customs and lifestyles, which may pose risks. However, even if organ compensation were legalized, the current donation process would remain unchanged. Tests would still be conducted, and the organ would still be treated as a voluntary gift.

Therefore, the quality of the organ is not diminished simply because individuals would receive payment for it. Another criticism of paying organ donors is that it takes advantage of the impoverished. Critics argue that the poor would be influenced to sell their organs to the wealthier classes (Becker, 2009). However, how would this be detrimental to the poor? In fact, they would be enhancing their own well-being. Being economically disadvantaged does not inherently decrease the quality of their organs compared to those of the rich or middle class. Therefore, this practice assigns equal value to organs across all economic classes.

Some critics argue that compensating organ donors would be too expensive (Tabarrok, 2010), but others believe that the cost of dialysis is much higher than donor compensation. Additionally, the cost should not be a major concern because organ donation is an immeasurable and invaluable contribution. Personally, I tragically lost my dear friend Josh Tolan two years ago at the age of 18 in a devastating car accident. He was declared brain dead two days later.

The parents of a compassionate man made the selfless choice to donate his organs, even though he never signed his donor card. His heart was given to a young girl, his kidneys went to an athlete, and his liver was transplanted into a relative. Despite not receiving any monetary compensation, the parents have been blessed with the invaluable gift of seeing the recipients lead fulfilled lives thanks to Josh’s organs.

Critics argue that it is unethical and unseemly to receive or pay for vital organs. However, the International Forum for Transplant Ethics states that the scarcity of kidneys for transplantation leads to immense suffering and death. Denying treatment to those in need requires more than personal disgust as justification. Therefore, it would be reasonable to financially reward organ donors for their contribution as this would greatly help address the overlooked issue of organ shortage in the United States.

Immediate action must be taken to address the global shortage of organs, as millions of individuals have died awaiting a solution since 1994. Postponing the issue is no longer an option; it requires urgent attention. A potential solution in America involves providing financial compensation to organ donors, although some may consider this approach unrealistic or unethical. However, doing nothing at all is even more unethical, as we are currently allowing thousands of lives to perish when there could be a viable solution. By raising awareness about this matter, we have the potential to save thousands of lives.


According to Becker (2009), allowing the sale of organs will lead to an increase in donations. This is supported by Brody (2007) who discusses the solvable problem of organ shortages, as well as Calne (2010) who states that organ transplantation has progressed significantly.

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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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