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01/14/2006

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David J. Undis

Professor Becker said "Barter arrangements like LifeSharers may well improve the present transplant system, but they have all the disadvantages of barter. That is why money and markets have replaced barter throughout the world."

This is certainly true. But barter makes a lot of sense in this case, because a monetary market for organs is illegal and there is little or no chance of that changing in the forseeable future.

Participating in LifeSharers is rational, unless you are sure you'll never need a transplant. You give up your organs after you can't use them any more. In return, you increase your chances of getting a transplant if you ever need one. This is an excellent trade, given that more than half of the people who need transplants in the United States will die before they get one. You can join LifeSharers for free at www.lifesharers.org.

Professor Becker also says "I believe much more of the concern expressed in some comments should relate to persons in need of transplants who either die because they cannot get them, or wait for years in ill-health before they receive suitable organs."

This really is the heart of the matter. What concerns are so important that we should forbid a father from buying an organ that would save his daughter's life? Please read Lloyd Cohen's "Directions for the Disposition of My (and Your) Vital Organs" at http://www.catoinstitute.org/pubs/regulation/regv28n3/v28n3-1.pdf.

Anthony

In regards to the idea of taxing persons who choose not to donate organs. There are people who do not donate organs for religious reasons (Orthodox Jews, members of various Christian sects, etc.) A tax might be seen as a tax on those religions and I doubt the courts would allow it.

ben

Joe

Even if there is a benefit from preventing poor people making bad decisions to sell their organs, it is disingenuous of you to ignore the costs of preventing their sale, which is that people die. Is it your contention that poor people are so stupid as to make it worth letting the sick die so as to protect the poor from their own bad decisions? Be serious.

In a healthy forest, majestic old trees die - and in so doing, allow younger trees to grow up and replace them. Note the opportunity for the best young trees to outcompete those of inferior stock (or luck of placement) and dominate the next generation.

Then you pull out the social Darwinism. Again. I don't know why you don't get slammed more often for writing this sort of thing. It's just wrongheaded. The whole issue of organs shortage and favoring the young etc disappears in a market which is allowed to clear. Nobody has to go without in a cleared market, so young and old alike can obtain transplants with the greater supply that markets provide. Markets mean nobody has to play god by picking who wins, which good when there are people with your values around.

Chetly Zarko

Hypothetically (I'm not sure I support the idea), as a compromise solution that might be more politically palatable, rather than allowing the wholesale sale of organs by living people, what about simply allowing people pre-sell "rights" to their organs in case of their untimely (non-suicidal) deaths. This would increase the number of people willing to sign-off on the organ donor cards/driver's license boxes, etc., but still permit the flexibility to adhere to one's religious values. One could perceive this as a sort of bonus insurance policy (no doubt, the insurance industry would lobby against this) whereby people who suffer untimely deaths are able to pay for all or significant portions of their death expenses or even provide something extra for their families. Of course, you regulate this in cases of suicide (like regular insurance, there would be no payout), and one might ago further and allow living organ sales in highly regulated environments (to prevent the "duping" effects) with review boards, limits on total donations (perhaps one). Sure, these would add significant regulation-costs to the price of organs, but there are many less-significant markets where regulation costs are considered essential.

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