By Zoe Siegel
President Reagan signed the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) 30 years ago. It was hoped that NOTA would end organ shortages by instituting legal guidelines for the transplantation of organs. However, approximately 30 Americans are removed from waiting lists every day because they become too sick to receive transplants or because they perish.
One possible solution to this problem lies in implementing the European model of presumed consent in the United States. Unfortunately, many experts believe that transitioning to this model will not do much in the way of solving the current shortage: as it stands, only 1% of deceased individuals are qualified to donate their organs, and of this small percentage, 75% already do so voluntarily.
In an interview with Dr. Sally Satel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Professor Keith Humphrey inquired about her suggestion for providing incentives to kidney donors. She proposes a system in which the government or a specific charity would provide a variety of rewards such as retirement benefits, an income tax credit, or a gift to the donor’s charity of choice in exchange for organ donation. Donors would be given six months to contemplate their decisions to donate; this grace period would help make sure the agreements are informed. She further hypothesizes that offering incentives to potential donors will not affect the number of altruistic donations. If implemented, she believes that her proposed model could eliminate waiting lists for kidneys in the next five years.
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