The Organ Gap

I’ll bet you spent the entire day last Saturday without realizing it was “National Minority Donor Day.” Here’s the problem: transplants have a better success rate if the ethnicity of the donor and the recipient is the same. Yet,

  • Although 29% of people waiting for an organ are black, only 16% of organ donors are black.
  • Hispanics do better: they comprise 17% of people waiting for organs and 14% of organ donors.

Comments (6)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    It is against federal law to compensate organ donors or their families. Yet, an organ is theoretically worth tens of thousands of dollars (if not much more). If we allowed monetary compensation for kidneys, and other organs in short supply, there would likely cease to be a shortage. Indeed, just about the only entity involved in the transplantation of an organ that cannot profit from it is the organ donor.

  2. Brian W. says:

    My neighbor is on some sort of regional list to receive a donated kidney, but the process is so arbitrary, he’s not sure it will ever happen.

  3. Ken says:

    Yet another reason to create a market for organs. If you paid,say, $25K a pop, do you think we would ever have an organ shortage?

  4. Joe S. says:

    Agree with Ken.

  5. Dave Undis says:

    As the death toll from the organ shortage mounts, public opinion will eventually support an organ market. Changes in public policy will then follow.

    In the mean time, there is an already-legal way to put a big dent in the organ shortage — allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. UNOS, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required.

    Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don’t have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Non-donors should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

  6. Ian Random says:

    I wish there was a limited sort of organ compensation. Something like paying for medical and funeral bills of the deceased.