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Producing Organ Donors

  • David H. Howard
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    Organ transplantation is one of the greatest technological achievements of modern medicine, but the ability of patients to benefit from transplantation is limited by shortages of transplantable organs. The median waiting time for patients placed on the kidney transplant waiting list is over three years. Median waiting times for hearts and livers are seven months and two years, respectively. From 1995 to 2005, the number of patients placed on the waiting list for organ transplants grew at an annualized rate of 4 percent per year. As a result of the growth in the demand for organs, many observers have questioned whether the current system is capable of providing enough transplantable organs. Transplant physicians and policymakers are seriously debating proposals to pay donors and their families and to change the legal regime governing the process of obtaining consent to donation. This paper provides an overview of the rules and practices that govern the organ procurement system and reviews proposals to increase donation rates, with a focus on deceased donors.

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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 21 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
    Pages: 25-36

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:21:y:2007:i:3:p:25-36
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.3.25
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    1. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez & M. Utku Unver, 2003. "Kidney Exchange," NBER Working Papers 10002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alberto Abadie & Sebastien Gay, 2004. "The Impact of Presumed Consent Legislation on Cadaveric Organ Donation: A Cross Country Study," NBER Working Papers 10604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gary S. Becker & Julio Jorge El�as, 2007. "Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 3-24, Summer.
    4. Barnett, A H & Kaserman, David L, 1995. "The "Rush to Transplant" and Organ Shortages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 506-15, July.
    5. Howard, David H., 2002. "Why do transplant surgeons turn down organs?: A model of the accept/reject decision," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 957-969, November.
    6. Hassin, Refael, 1985. "On the Optimality of First Come Last Served Queues," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 201-02, January.
    7. T. Randolph Beard & David L. Kaserman & Richard P. Saba, 2004. "Limits to Altruism: Organ Supply and Educational expenditures," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(4), pages 433-441, October.
    8. Thorne, Emanuel D, 1996. "The Cost of Procuring Market-Inalienable Human Organs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 191-200, September.
    9. Byrne, Margaret M. & Thompson, Peter, 2001. "A positive analysis of financial incentives for cadaveric organ donation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 69-83, January.
    10. Frey, Bruno S., 1993. "Motivation as a limit to pricing," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 635-664, December.
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