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Donations Of Life

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Category: Social Issues

Autor: anton 01 April 2011

Words: 1116 | Pages: 5


After contracting a mild case of the flu, doctors told 21-year-old Lisa that her heart would last her for no more than 3 more months. Her only hope was to get a new heart. A month later, 20-year-old Sally was in an automobile accident and suffered severe head injures and died. Her heart could have saved Lisa's life. When Sally's parents were asked if they would allow their daughter's heart to be donated, however, their hysteria and grief over just losing their young child was too great. They refused to donate Sally's heart, and less than a month later, Lisa also died. Unfortunately, this is an all too common experience among potential organ donors. This is a story told by, a heart surgeon, Dr. Robert Sade.

Cadaver organ transplantation saves many lives; however, it could be saving more. Too many people unnecessarily die each year due to lack of organ donations. Not only have I spent hours discussing such issues with my uncle, who is the medical director of LifePoint, South Carolinas organ procurement agency, but I have done some other research as well.

As a result of this study, I have concluded that the problem of organ donation could be solved or significantly lessened if financial incentives were legalized for donors or their families.

(Transition: First, lets start with problem about the organ waiting list)


I. S.L. Gortman wrote that the problem is that more than 6,000 people on the transplant waiting list unnecessarily die every year because the donation rate is so low: less than half of potential donors actually become donors.

A. According to the United Network of Sharing Organs, one patient is added to the transplant waiting list every 14 minutes. Also, One patient on the waiting list dies every 80 minutes while waiting for an organ that never came.

C. Ever since the early 1980s, there have been more people wait-listed than there are available organs.

1. S.L. Gortman also wrote that only about 35% of suitable donors donate, and each donor may provide from one to eight organs, but, on average, 3.2 donate, thus, 65% of suitable organs are buried or cremated.

(Transition: Now that you know a little about the problem about the waiting list, lets talk about the cause of the problem.)

II. The cause of this problem is quite a complex one.

A. Robert Sade wrote that families have many reasons not to donate organs of a deceased loved one, such as the emotional stresses arising from the sudden death of a loved one, desire to keep body intact for religious or personal reasons, among others; however, the only legally acceptable incentive currently is purely altruism.

B. The law that prohibits any valuable consideration for a transplant organ was drafted in 1984 by Congressman Al Gore

1. According to the National Organ Transplant Act, to avoid turning organ transplantation into a commercial transaction, Congress forbade any valuable consideration, an extremely broad term, for donating an organ.

2. Although this prohibition of all valuable considerations for organ donation was focused mainly on payment to living donors, the law was so broad that it also forbade paying for funeral expenses, allowing tax credits to the estates of donors, transporting the donor's body back to their home town, etc.

(Transition: Now that you know about the cause of the problems, lets move on to the solution)

III. Though there are many causes to this lethal problem, the solution may not be as complex.

A. We clearly have much to gain from increasing organ supply, and something must be done.

1. Increasing donation rate will decrease death rates and increase overall health of those on the waiting list.

2. Barnett and Kaserman have said that increasing donation rate will decrease the costs of performing operations.

B. People have realized this problem and several laws have already been made to try to increase the level of donation under the current system; however none of them have worked.

C. What I am proposing is that financial incentives should not be prohibited, as the current law has it.

1. Receiving gifts of considerable value should only be effective for organ donation, not for distribution; in other words, a person in need of a new kidney may not buy a kidney before all other eligible people on the waiting list.

2. Also, financial incentives could not be offered to living people. This proposal is only dealing with cadaveric donors.

D. There are a couple of different methods of payment that could be used if this financial incentive proposition becomes lawful.

1. One potential way of distributing the financial incentives includes indirect payment, and such methods have already been attempted.

A. The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has recommended contributions to a charity of choice, tax credits to the estate of the donor, or payment for funeral expenses or transport body for burial.

B. Another way of distributing payment is using a more direct method of simply giving money to the donor's family, which may be ethically preferable.

1. Logically & morally same as indirect

2. Stronger incentive, more lives saved.


I. In conclusion, many people in need of a donated organ are dying each year despite the fact that there are enough suitable organs, most of which are being buried or cremated because they are not being donated. These refusals of donation could potentially be reversed by implementing financial incentives for organ donation. Because such policies could save many lives, it is imperative that we repeal the current outdated prohibition.

II. The book of life is a familiar metaphor, and in this book, death is the end, the final chapter. For those who are fortunate enough to be able to donate organs, the donation becomes an epilogue to their book, for part of them lives on through the people whose lives they have saved.


Barnett, Andrew H., and Kaserman, David L. The Shortage of Organs for Transplantation: Exploring the Alternatives. Issues Law Medicine 1993. 9 (2): 117-137

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA). American Medical Association. Opinion 2.15: Financial Incentives for Organ Donation. Code of Medical Ethics 2000-2001.

Gortmaker SL, Beasley CL, Brigham LE, et al. Organ donor potential and performance: size and nature of the organ donor shortfall. Critical Care Medicine 1996. 24 (3): 432-439.

Jacobs, Barry. Testimony at Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, 1984. House of Representatives, 98th Congress, 1st session, Bill 4080. Serial 98-70. 3 July 2004. .

National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA). 1984. Pub L. No. 98-507, 3 USC §301. 2 July, 2004 .

Sade, Robert M. Transplantation, The Organ Gap, and Race.. Journal of South Carolina Medical Association 1999. 95: 112-15.

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. 1972. 8 Uniform Laws Annotated

United Network For Sharing Organs. 1 July, 2004 .

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