There is a shortage of organs available for transplants in the United States. There’s some dispute about the number of people who die each year waiting for one, but it’s certainly many thousands.
Whenever there is a shortage in the United States, it’s a good bet that it’s caused by the government intervening (ostensibly to help us).
That’s definitely true in this case.
The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 made it a crime “For any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation.”
Organs are valuable, and many people are squeamish about donating them. So, if the government forces the price to $0, a shortage is inevitable.
Most bioethicists agree that it’s better for more people to die waiting for organs than for some people to get them before it’s their turn. That wouldn’t be fair.
I hope that one day sanity will emerge and this stupid policy will be ended.
In the meantime, I urge all of you to consider joining Lifesharers: an organization that allows organ donors to grant and receive priority to/from other members. If we can’t give people a monetary incentive, perhaps we can offer them something else valuable to encourage them to become donors. The more people who join, the greater the incentive for others to join (and become donors, which is the real point).
Here’s a great Reason magazine article on the subject from a few years ago.
(HT Tim Lee)