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Kidney News You Won’t Believe

Ever since this first post on organ transplants just over a year ago followed by our subsequent New York Times column on the subject, we have received many, many tips about interesting, strange, provocative, and even useful incentives to encourage more organ donation. But nothing comes close to the latest one, which was sent in by at least 8 or 10 readers (thanks to all of you): a Dutch reality TV program, The Big Donor Show, in which three contestants compete to receive a kidney from a terminally ill donor.

As you can imagine, there is pushback on all fronts, including the argument that the show’s setup doesn’t remotely reflect the reality of organ donation and transplantation. But to my mind, that is missing the point entirely. No matter how craven the producers’ motives may be — I imagine it will glean high ratings if the authorities don’t manage to pull it off the air — and no matter how poorly the show reflects reality, the very fact that this issue has reached the point of warranting a reality show suggests that the status quo is badly outmoded, and change needs to be made.

Sally Satel, who received a kidney from Virginia Postrel, writes here in grudging favor of the show.