No Helmets for More Organs
Does life, or at least economics, imitate art?
Wearing a helmet while motorcycling in Texas is not mandatory. Indeed, Texas is one of six states that have repealed mandatory helmet laws since 1994. The consequences remind me of an old Faye Kellerman novel, Prayers for the Dead, about a transplant surgeon who is active in a motorcycle club because he wants to discourage helmet use in order to increase the supply of transplantable organs (motor vehicle deaths being a major source of organs).
A recent unpublished study links changes in state laws on mandatory helmet laws to the supply of transplantable organs, showing that where and when helmet wearing was no longer required, the supply of organs for transplants in the state increased.
I’m all in favor of increasing the supply of organs for transplant, as there is currently a substantial shortage of transplantable organs. Some economists have argued for a free market in organs that lets the market establish a price.
I find that repugnant; I don’t want people selling their kidneys, just as I find the Kellerman doctor’s behavior repugnant. Perhaps the best hope, or at least the most moral, may be the incentive that today’s shortages provide for innovation of trans-species or, better still, artificial organs for transplants.