By JC (Property Rights) - In the US, 18 people die every day while waiting for available organs. The organ transplant waitlist is over 100,000. We are facing a medical crisis in this country.
easier than ever to sign up to become an organ donor: many states only require
an additional signature while processing your new or renewed driver’s
license. Two check boxes pop up on the
screen; you get to choose one. Could it
get any easier?
a recent survey found that most Americans are willing to donate their organs
after death but only 38% of registered drivers are registered to do so. What drives this disparity? Research suggests that misconceptions about
the donation and registration processes are two of the primary factors that
create this difference. Some people fear
they are not healthy enough or are too old to donate viable organs. Others believe doctors will not work as hard
to save their lives if they are organ donors.
Some even fear having their organs sold on a black market after
I suffer from these misconceptions. I’m
open to the idea of organ donation—who wouldn’t want to save a life if it’s
within his or her power? Yet, I’m not a
registered organ donor and don’t go out of my way to register. Whenever I’m renewing my driver’s license, I
usually breeze through the organ donation screen with a quick check in the “NO”
box. Why? This is usually after over an hour of wait
time; I don’t know if there are additional screens after the first organ
donation one if I check “YES.” All I
know is that I want to get out of the MVA as fast as possible—and I do not feel
strongly about organ donation so any extra time spent on the process creates
negative utility for me.
is why the US should have an opt-out organ donation policy. An opt-out policy will have great gains in
donation rates amongst currently unregistered people who are either willing to
donate or are indifferent about organ donation.
Changing the program from opt-in to opt-out eliminates some structural and
bureaucratic inefficiencies, thereby increasing the availability of organs
anywhere from an estimated 16% to 50%.
When organ donation is the default assumption, it will take extra effort
to remove oneself from the program and only those who are strongly against
organ donation will take the time to do so.
the current US organ donation policy is inconsistent with its other property
destruction policies: the US has historically denied individuals the right to
destroy. Courts are concerned with the
waste of resources available to society as a whole; they generally try and
prevent the negative externalities that would result from the destruction of
one’s physical or financial property. A
physical house might be worth $1,000,000.
Yet, the average estimate of the value of a statistical life for a
middle aged worker is $7,000,000. Why
should someone be stopped from destroying his or her house but be not only
allowed, but systemically encouraged by government policy, in destroying his or
her kidney that could save someone’s life?
policy regarding organ donation boils down to the societal norms. Our society treats the human body as sacred
and is not educated on the realities of organ donation. Mass media and hippie yoga teachers hand us
whey kale shakes and whisper seductively in our ears: “Our bodies are
sacred. Let us worship at their
shrines.” It would be different to become an organ donor—it’s
not the norm. Consequently, there is not
a widespread push to change the current policy and policymakers are reluctant
to even approach the subject.
Yet, can a
dead person’s kidney really be more sacred than a living human’s life?
US would not be the first country to adopt an opt-out organ donation policy;
France, Spain, Australia, Belgium, and Portugal all have varying forms of
presumed consent policies, along with significantly higher organ donation
rates. If the US follows their progressive
lead, we can fight our medical crisis and save more lives, one kidney at a