Organ Donor Legislation
According to a January 28, 2007 article in the New York Times, titled "Grim Harvest" (see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DE1D71130F93BA15752C0A9619C8B63) 94,000 people are essentially waiting for someone else to die so that they might live. Organ Donor Economics was the title of an article in Business Week last month that covered the growing debate over the compensation for organ donation. For many years, families that donated cadavers to medical schools received compensation from the schools. Legislation has been introduced to compensate the families of organ donors. The National Kidney foundation is one group that is in severe opposition to selling 'surplus' body parts. Medical Schools in the United States have a surplus of bodies and yet economically it makes more sense for the families to donate 'used' body parts to a medical school where they receive some compensation rather than donate the organs to a name on a waiting list and receive no compensation. Economically we know that the low price (in this case compensation) is causing a major shortage of supply. An economic sociologist, Kieran Healy, adds to the debate over organ procurement indicating one method to succeed would be to have healthy adults make a binding contract to be organ donors when, "with life insurance paid for by transplant centers, the government or a private foundation going to their heirs." I believe that compensation for organ donors would not cause the average Joe to go out and sell his body parts, rather it would encourage surviving family members to give the 'gift of life' and help organ recipients live longer with an increased chance of a fuller life. Approving the legislation would be the 'invisible hand' that guides free market and would allow the quantity supplied to shift until it meets the quantity demanded.