One More Organ Donor

Yesterday was a first for me. During a lecture, I briefly discussed the sad state of organ donation, and how altruism alone cannot satisfy the demand for organs. Afterward, I sat down to sign some books. A woman approached and, after getting her book signed, put something else in front of me for a signature: her driver’s license. She had decided that she wanted to sign up as an organ donor, and asked me to be one of her signing witnesses. Her name is Jackie Stanley. I have to say, it was very moving. The only problem is that someone with Jackie’s characteristics — caring, foresight, etc. — is probably less likely to get in a fatal car crash than someone with the opposite traits (I hope so, at least).


donated over 200 units

How about getting people to start with blood or platelets. I donate platelets about twice a month and in addition to the cookies afterward, I get a good feeling knowing that chemotherapy and other patients benefit.


What do you think of the new law in California? Now instead of the old opt-in program at DMV, they have to ask you when you renew your license.


As a CA driver, I've always signed up for organ donation, which was marked on the license by a little pink stick-on dot -- which quickly fell off and disappeared into the recesses of my wallet.

My last renewal, the pink dot was PRINTED onto the license!

Carrie L.

I always check off the box that I'd like to be an organ donor, but should I ever almost die, I doubt anyone will harvest any of my working parts. You see, I have MS, and my corneas, kidneys, liver and heart 'might' have MS too. There's no proof either way, but I'm not allowed to donate blood either, which is maddening. My organs have been working just fine for me all my life. I always check off "excellent" on those forms that ask you to rate your health. I can see, I have nothing like heart disease or high BP or cancer or ANYTHING, yet my entire mostly perfectly working body would be trashed because MS is in the picture. Grrrr.

JP Gal

Mazeltov! What a great story. The only viable solution I can come up with is to reverse the current presumptions. Instead of assuming that most people DON'T want to donate their organs and therefore putting the burden on those who do to opt in, we should presume that people DO want to donate and put the burden on those who don't to opt out.

As for what the corresponding symbol should be for the driver's licenses of those who opt out (since we wouldn't need a symbol for anyone else), maybe a heart with the universally recognized circle and slash through it?


How about relaxing the rules of donations etc. Coming from the UK I am unable to donate blood in the US as I might have mad cow disease! In the UK I can't donate as I am not resident. Despite making over 30 donations in the UK while I lived there it looks like my donating days are over.
They probably would not want to transplant my organs either, same reasons...


I believe some states are moving to an opt-out process, that is, you are signed up for organ donor status upon drivers license renewal, unless you choose to opt-out

Sean Samis

I donate blood as often as allowed, and am signed up as an organ donor. I highly recommend it, it is something anyone can do.


I've joked for about 12 years now (since I had a kidney disease diagnosed) with my family and friends, tellng them, "Take good care of my kidney."

So thanks for the attention that Freakanomics brings to the topic.

Cindy Bennett

I think a good idea would be to do what one country did (Israel, I think), which was to put the people who signed on as organ donors as being at the top of the list of recipients should they require an organ. Has the potential of rewarding the donors while providing incentive.

David L

Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we won't have to rely on donors because we'll just print organs as we need them.


Donating your organs is one of the stupidest things I've heard of since, by doing so, you are depriving your family and your heirs of part of their patrimony.

You may as well donate your house to charity when you die. instead of leaving it to your kids and heirs. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.


I wish the US would make organ donation an assumed preference, so that one has to opt out. Obviously, there could be institutionalized automatic "opt outs" for those with surnames that would indicate possible Muslim faith, those with chronic illnesses that would render their organs unusable, etc.

And I wish we would make it so that those who require a new organ because they were an alcoholic or drug addict only get new organs when all of those people with hereditary hepatitis B, etc., have received organs.

My wife's father (an immigrant from Southeast Asia and a teetotaler his whole life) died while waiting for a liver transplant in 1992. Yet a few years later, chronic boozehound and actor Larry Hagman got his transplant. I believe he's had two of them now.

Where's the fairness in that?


Go back to the little dot thaqt falls off, only use it for the people that opt out.

If the time ever comes, I doubt we will hear any objections from them.


I became a donor as the first act of adulthood when I turned 18. Uruguay has established an opt-out policy. That is, you are a donor UNLESS you state otherwise. I think this is pretty clever.


What's the big deal? When you're dead, it's not like you need the organs anymore. That's selfishness.


If Jackie really had the characteristics you describe she would've already been a organ donor. How many years did she go without having signed up?


I have been signed up as an organ donor for years. However I am not in favor of an opt-out policy. Such a personal decision should be made conciously with a good deal of thought. It's amazing to me that with so much enthusiasm over requiring websites, etc. to switch from opt-out for advertising that people would want to turn the tables for something they believe in.


To jimbino:
The difference between leaving your organs and leaving your house to your heirs is that your heirs will likely not be able to use them at that time, and organs can't be kept untill they need them. Furthermore, your heirs could sell a house, but for obvious reasons, they are not allowed to sell your organs.

jo murray

In addition to signing up to donate organs, people should sign up to join the bone marrow registry. It's painless to sign up now, as it's done with a cheek swab that they mail to you.


You can save a life with your bone marrow donation. My friend Maya needs a second bone marrow transplant to live more than her current five years.