Organ donations

An old but important post by Eric Crampton:

NZ’s regime is an inefficient nightmare that kills people. Donor’s wishes, expressed via their drivers’ licence, aren’t taken as binding and can be overturned by anyone claiming a connection to the potential donor. Even suggesting that folks signing up to be future organ donors get bumped up the waiting listgets folks riled up, though there were some encouraging noises two years ago about maybe allowing that Kiwi donors be compensated; similar calls for compensation came up in the UK last year. As it stands, Otago’s med school is allowed to cover funeral costs for cadaveric whole body donations, but nobody’s allowed to cover funeral costs for organ donors. There are all kinds of policies that would improve on the status quo but haven’t been explored, at least in NZ.

I think the current practice where donors wishes are not binding is a terrible thing.

Eric blogs on Israel:

Living donors are now paid 40 days’ lost wages plus a very generous expenses allowance. Folks with family members on the waiting list can request to become living donors for other people on the list and are then matched with other folks in the same circumstances: a “chain of living donors” not unlike the American MatchingDonors service. Result?

Israel experienced a dramatic increase in the number of organ transplants in 2011, totaling 384, 68 percent higher than the previous year, although the number of transplants performed in 2010 was particularly low. Kidney transplants from deceased donors were 2.37 times greater in 2011, with 123 operations, than in 2010. There were 69 liver transplants from deceased donors in the past year, 2.15 times as many the previous year, 59 lung transplants, representing an 84 percent increase, and 23 heart transplants – 2.09 times the number in 2010.

Excellent. And further:

The Priority Law, which takes effect in April, will give holders of Adi donor cards priority if they ever need a transplant.
The number of cardholders has considerably increased recently following a publicity campaign touting the new law. Anyone signing the card before April will be immediately eligible for the benefit, while those signing after the law goes into effect will need to wait three years for eligibility after signing.
The number of organ donor signatures rose 71,229 during the year to a total of 632,300 while another 20,000 requests for the cards are being processed by the National Transplant Center.
Too many NZers die waiting for organs. We should seriously look at emulating Israel and doing what we can to encourage more donors, and to have their wishes as binding.

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