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Posts Tagged ‘organs’

Incentives for Organ Donations

A new paper from Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, and Sarah S. Stith (abstract; PDF) looks at whether various incentives are helping in getting more organ donations and bone-marrow donations:

In an attempt to alleviate the shortfall in organs and bone marrow available for transplants, many U.S. states passed legislation providing leave to organ and bone marrow donors and/or tax benefits for live and deceased organ and bone marrow donations and to employers of donors. We exploit cross-state variation in the timing and passage of such legislation to analyze its impact on organ donations by living and deceased persons, on measures of the quality of the organs transplanted, and on the number of bone marrow donations. We find that these provisions did not have a significant impact on the quantity of organs donated. The leave legislation, however, did have a positive impact on bone marrow donations. We also find some evidence of a positive impact on the quality of organ transplants, measured by post-transplant survival rates. Our results suggest that these types of legislation work for moderately invasive procedures such as bone marrow donation, but may be too low for organ donation, which is riskier and more burdensome to the donor.

Are we perhaps inching closer to a legal market in organs?

Organ Donation Supply and Demand

My wife is helping with a local drive to get people to register to donate organs. We thought that, as a cancer survivor, she herself would not be allowed to register. Wrong. Anyone under age 85 can register, so long as their cancer is not active and they do not have a systemic infection of any kind.

The doctor who informed us says this increases the potential supply of transplantable organs. If the demand is high enough, and the patients sick enough, the doctors will choose to use a donated organ even if the transplantation risk from the particular organ is substantial. Thus, while fortunately the price system is not used explicitly in the transplantable organ market, the choice to allow more people to register and to compare the demand to the increased supply suggests economics is currently present in this market.

Helmetless Motorcyclist Killed While Riding to Overturn Helmet Law

From the (Syracuse) Post-Standard:

A Parish man who was participating in a motorcycle helmet protest ride was killed this afternoon when he went over the handlebars of his motorcycle and injured his head on the pavement, state police said.
Philip A. Contos, 55, of 45 East St., Parish, was not wearing a helmet while driving a 1983 Harley Davidson motorcycle south on Route 11 in Onondaga with a large group of other motorcyclists, troopers said. …
Evidence at the scene and information from the attending physician indicate Contos would have survived if he had been wearing a Department of Transportation approved helmet, troopers said.

When foreign friends visit the States and are puzzled by some of the quirks of our Government, I often point to helmet laws — which differ state by state — as an example of how things work, or fail to work, depending on your point of view.
If the strongest argument in favor of a universal helmet law is that we all share medical and emergency costs to some degree and should therefore minimize them, what is the strong argument against such a law?
One bizarre unintended consequence of the rollback in helmet laws: more human organs available for transplantation. From SuperFreakonomics Illustrated:
Between 1994 and 2007, six states repealed laws that required all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Here’s a look at per-capita organ donations from male victims of motor-vehicle crashes in those states versus all other states.*
*See Stacy Dickert-Conlin, Todd Elder, and Brian Moore, “Donorcycles: Motorcycle Helmet Laws and the Supply of Organ Donors.”

Is the Idea of an Organ Market Losing Its Repugnance?

From a reader named Dmitry Mazin:

So I’m doing legalizing the organ market (selling your own organs only) for my speech class because I wanted to do something really repugnant and controversial.
Well, I passed out a survey to my class of about thirty people and two whole people were against this system. And this isn’t a progressive area — it’s in the Bible Belt of Southern California. Even Catholics were for it.
I think this corroborates that repugnance survey in the Freakonomics Radio episode “You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!”
So there you go.
Have a great day!

Hey, you have a great day too, Dmitry.
P.S.: I didn’t know there was a “Bible Belt of Southern California.” (Here’s a rare web cite about it; and here’s an earlier post called “We Pretend We Are Christians.”

An Organ Printer?

We’ve blogged at length about the shortage of donor organs in the United States. A company in San Diego is working on a solution to that problem.

Why the Israeli Organ-Harvesting Story Is Probably False

A strange story has broken out in Sweden and Israel, with an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, by a journalist named Donald Bostrom.
According to The Times, Bostrom’s article “accuses the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers.”

Multi-Ethnic Corruption and the Black Market for Organs

You probably know already that 44 people were arrested yesterday, mostly in New Jersey, for corruption and money-laundering. They included mayors, rabbis, and assemblymen (oh my!).
The story is simultaneously vast and banal, seeming to illustrate every cliché of politicians and the people who seek to grease their palms. There are many, many angles to be discussed. A few thoughts that sprung to mind include:

No Helmets for More Organs

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.

Crisis as the Mother of Innovation

There is a very interesting nugget in a paper by Benjamin Hippen about the market for human organs in Iran, which I blogged about not long ago. Hippen writes that in the earlier days of kidney transplantation, both the U.S. and Iranian governments “paid for dialysis while continuing to develop transplant options.” As more and more patients needed dialysis, the . . .

Human Organs for Sale, Legally, in … Which Country?

Here is an oversimplification of a complex problem: 1. Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, a sick or dying human being can receive a transplanted organ from another human being. 2. Some of those organs must inevitably come from cadavers: i.e., you can’t give your heart to someone else and still live. But some transplanted organs can come from . . .

Only Musical Organs Belong on eBay

I had my students present and discuss a study of the market for organ donations. The study points out that prices are not used to elicit supply of live organs or to ration demand, and that the shortage (waiting list) of kidneys and livers has been increasing. The authors propose using prices to reduce the shortage of both live donations . . .

The FREAK-est Links

Victims of India’s ‘Kidney Kingpin’ speak (Earlier) Are midlife crises a global phenomenon? (Earlier) The ethics of execution More on the ‘R-word’… (Earlier)