By Rose Bowen

Last week, JAMA Internal Medicine published an article detailing the findings of an investigation into the effects that state policies have on organ donation and transplantation in the United States. Using data from 1988-2010, the researchers found that the majority of state policies promoting voluntary organ donation are ineffective at reducing the current organ shortage, one of our nation’s biggest public health concerns. According to the study, 124,000 patients require an organ transplant; 6,000 of those individuals are expected to die this year on the waiting list. Policies such as first-person consent laws, public education programs, job leave for donors, tax benefits, donor registries, and revenue pools were found to have no observable effects on the rates of organ donation or on the number of transplants in the United States.

While every state has donation-related policies, the only legislation that showed even a 5% increase in rates of donation was a revenue policy. Revenue policies enable individuals to contribute to protected state funds for donation promotion activities.

The organ deficit will only get bigger as our population ages and chronic diseases become more prominent. Policymakers and physicians are becoming increasingly aware of this issue. Studies, such as this one, that distinguish effective organ donation policies from those that are less successful are essential for progress.

Read the full article here.