Clearing the Way for an Organ Market?

Cite this Article
Joshua D. Wright, Clearing the Way for an Organ Market?, Truth on the Market (December 17, 2008),

From the WSJ on potential legislation clearing the way for compensation to donors in the form of tax deductions:

While the chilling effect of the federal ban has remained since 1994, the national transplant waiting list has more than quadrupled. This may be why organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, which has previously opposed all incentives to encourage the gift of life, are now reconsidering. NKF tells us that board members will review its position at a meeting next month.

Only half of families now choose to donate the organs of a deceased loved one, adding up to about 8,000 deceased donors each year. While about 6,000 living donors choose each year to help friends and family, fewer than 100 Good Samaritans show up each year at transplant centers to make living donations to strangers. Despite the growing transplant waiting list, the total number of organ donors decreased slightly in 2007.

Mr. Specter has gone to some lengths to assure potential critics that after his bill passes, nobody will be allowed to offer lungs on eBay. His bill not only maintains the ban on buying and selling, but increases the criminal penalties, adding a seven-year sentence for organ trafficking. We’re not sure that an organ market wouldn’t save more lives, but that’s a debate for another day. The Specter bill would simply clarify that states may provide incentives such as tax deductions to encourage donations that could save thousands of lives each year.