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A New Incentive for Organ Donors: Shorter Prison Terms

That is the proposal being considered in the South Carolina Senate. Prisoners would receive up to 180 days of time served for donating an organ or bone marrow. The following exchange of quotes from an A.P. article pretty much sums up the positions of nearly every debate over how organ donation should be incentivized:

Mary Jo Cagle, chief medical officer of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville, urged senators to find an allowable incentive. “We have a huge need for organs and bone marrow,” Cagle said.

But Melissa Blevins, executive director of Donate Life South Carolina, said any incentive would break the law and the principle behind donations. “It really muddies the water about motive. We want to keep it a clearly altruistic act,” she said.

As we argued here, the current system of treating organ donations as a “clearly altruistic act” clearly isn’t working very well. This is pointed out in the final sentence of the A.P. article:

More than 95,300 Americans are awaiting an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. About 6,700 die each year.

The biggest recent news on the organ transplant front is a proposal spelled out in a fascinating Wall Street Journal article in which the United Network for Organ Sharing would radically shift the way it rations donated kidneys. Instead of awarding kidneys based primarily on a recipient’s time spent on the waiting list, the new UNOS plan would factor in the recipient’s age. Younger recipients would get preference over older patients, the idea being that a new organ is more valuable to a younger person with more years to live.

FWIW, here are a variety of our earlier posts on the subject.

(Hat tip: Rian Stockbower)