Incentivized Altruism

Only one in ten Israeli adults is an organ donor and the country is addressing the situation with an innovative new policy. Organ donors and their close relatives will now receive priority if they require a transplant. Jacob Lavee of the Sheba Medical Center said the new policy “provides an incentive for individuals to agree to help each other.” The policy will be widely publicized and will take effect in January 2011. (HT: Marginal Revolution) [%comments]

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  1. Tristan says:

    This makes so much sense, it should be in place everywhere. If you’re a registered organ donor then you get put ahead of all the non-organ donors on the transplant list.

    It’s a pretty straightforward hypocrisy test, if you don’t think organ donation is a good idea, you shouldn’t get to add an “*except if I’m on the receiving end” disclaimer. Also, if you end up receiving an organ, you should automatically have to consent to being an organ donor in the future.

    I think children should be exempt until they get their driver’s license (at least here in the US where that’s the first time anyone usually makes this choice), but other than that it sounds like a great idea.

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  2. frankenduf says:

    is it kosher?!- i.e. i wonder about the ethics- ill presume the talmud has nothing to say on the matter

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  3. Jim says:

    I like it. No money exchanges hands. There doesn’t seem to be a way to exploit it. They only way to profit from it is when you or a loved one needs an organ.

    Blood donations used to be similar, at least here in NJ. But they seem to have done away with it.

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  4. Jonathan Baird says:

    Wow. Go Israel! Add the ability for donors to get paid, and it would be the more efficient system possible.

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  5. Katie Cunningham says:

    A good idea, but what about those that can’t donate for some reason? I’m not even talking about the inability to donate for religious reasons: some conditions make it impossible to donate one’s organs.

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  6. Avi says:

    Seems like the old rabbinical rulings on when death occurs and desecration of the body both before and after death would make this tricky for traditional religious Jews.

    So before this rule, only the less-religious Jews (and other faiths) would donate, but everyone would accept transplants, so all the benefit went one way. This rule could even things out a bit.

    Even religious Jews have a duty to save lives, though, and maybe this will encourage them to see organ donation as a mitzvah rather than a desecration.

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  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    There are decisions like this that make great sense for society at large, and make no sense at all to the individual.

    Another example is mammograms. Society recommends fewer and later, but an individual’s best choice would get them earlier and more often.

    Another example is gun ownership. Society recommends against it. But the individual is better served with one than without one.

    So anyway, I am against donating my organs, but I’m sure happy to have you donate yours.

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  8. JBM says:

    I agree that it makes sense, but what happens when people argue that they are not an organ donor because of their religious beliefs? Personally I’d say “tough luck” to those making that argument, but constitutionally there might be some serious debate there.

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