Monday, May 15, 2006

The slope! It's slippery!

Organs! For sale!

But even so, this new supply will fall far short of need. At the very least, the report should have shown enthusiasm for other initiatives. One is the popular and effective European practice of "presumed consent" in which citizens are considered donors at death unless they sign an anti-donor (or opt-out) card.

Another possibility it could have recommended was pilot studies using incentives in a regulated market. One model resembles a "futures" market in cadaver organs. A potential donor could receive compensation — outright payment, a sizable contribution to a charity of his choice or lifetime health insurance — in installments before death or to his estate afterwards in exchange for permission to recover his organs at death.

Why so timid? The Institute of Medicine cautioned against treating the body as if it were "for sale." But that's outdated thinking: we've accepted markets for human eggs, sperm and surrogate mothers. A recent poll by researchers in Pennsylvania found that 59 percent of respondents favored the general idea of incentives, with 53 percent saying direct payments would be acceptable.

The solution, of course, is not to do that other stuff, which is also wrong.

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