Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Tyranny of the gift

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Dec• 20•07

The Sunday New York Times had an interesting article (“Disparately seeking a kidney“) on kidney transplantation. The author, a kidney recipient, suggests the following:

“Altruism is a beautiful virtue, but it has fallen painfully short of its goal. We must be bold and experiment with offering prospective donors other incentives for giving, not necessarily payment but material reward of some kind — perhaps something as simple as offering donors lifelong Medicare coverage. Or maybe Congress should grant waivers so that states can implement their own creative ways of giving something to donors: tax credits, tuition vouchers or a contribution to a giver’s retirement account.

In short, we should reward individuals who relinquish an organ to save a life because doing so would encourage others to do the same. Yes, splendid people like Virginia [the author’s kidney donor] will always be moved to rescue in the face of suffering, and I did get my kidney. But unless we stop thinking of transplantable kidneys solely as gifts, we will never have enough of them.”

I have touched on this subject last month in my post on “Organ Sales.”

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