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Guest Opinion: Organ donations are life-saving gifts

Original post made on May 7, 2008

For almost three decades I have been working as a medical social worker specializing in the working with persons with kidney disease, a specialty known as nephrology.

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Comments (19)

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Posted by bunny
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 7, 2008 at 8:37 pm

It seems as if organ donations after a person dies has the ability to help a tremendous amount of people, is there anything that can be done now,or is currently in affect that serves as some incentive that will encourage more people to offer their organs after they die? Perhaps some sort of tax, or healthcare break?

Excellent article, way to raise awareness Deb

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 6:27 am

Let people sell their organs and there would be no shortage. My brother died waiting for a kidney. If medical "ethics" prohibit paying for organs then stop charging for the surgery.

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Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 2:24 pm

We should be able to sell organs to the highest bidder, the MDs get paid, the hospitals and insurance companies get paid- so should donors

In China they harvest organs from criminals and Falun followers without payment we should do better than that

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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 8, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Yes, there should be a free market in organs.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Virginia Postrel, late of Reason Magazine, has done some good work on organs. Her website, tells, among other stuff, about her decision to donate a kidney to a stranger.

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Posted by WhyStopThere?
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 10, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Hell, let's just put 'em all up for sale on EBay!

Plus the gov't can start extracting parts from prisoners and selling them to "pay" for their incarceration.

Need an expensive surgery? Just let them take out an extra part to help pay for it!

Heck, maybe Wal-Mart can start offering "extraction payment plans" - an eye will get you a $500 shopping spree, a kidney a $1000 spree!

Now there's some foward Walter E. Wallis-type thinking for you!

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2008 at 12:44 am

There's hope for you, Why. Now find out what the doctors spend their fees from transplants on, and ask why this is any more ethical that selling an organ.

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Posted by disagree for once, Walter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2008 at 7:58 am

We don't sell organs for the same reason we don't sell children.

There would be a tremendous market for "stealing" organs from people, just like there would be for stealing kids and selling them.

Now, if we could somehow assure psychological and physical provenance of an organ donor who also wants to earn a little money for his troubles and lost work time in giving an organ...I would go along with that. And support it...

I wonder what would happen if folks were paid 100,000 for a kidney?

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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2008 at 10:00 am

It's amazing how weak the arguments are for preventing a free market in organs (concern for prisoners, sense of the proper, psychology, greed, etc.). Meanwhile a lot of good people die.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2008 at 10:23 am

There is definitely an ethical question here. How about a couple with a badly deformed baby selling their baby's organs rather than keeping the child. How about even people getting pregnant so that they can sell their baby's organs with a late abortion. How would you feel if your loved one was given the organs of say, Scott Peterson. How about the doctors not doing their best to save car crash victims because the relatives had just fallen out with whoever had been in the crash.


I think the law should stay the same.

I also think that rather than the individual themselves making the decision beforehand it is more down to the relatives left. I would never go against any of my relative's decision as to whether they did or did not want to be organ donors, but I would certainly think differently at a time when I may have to make such a decision. In our family, we have discussed this, and we feel that we would leave the decision to those who survived as to what should be done with our organs.

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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

The wild speculations above further make my case.
And an ethics that does not give the individual a say about the disposal of his own body is reprehensible.

Like this comment
Posted by Deb Kurland
a resident of Green Acres
on May 11, 2008 at 8:36 pm

FYI: There are no transplant fees for the donor. I am glad to see that this article stimulated so much discussion. So many issues have been raised-many which I do not have a well-thought out response for. At the present time, I just hope to raise some awareness about this medical need and I thank you all for taking the time to discuss this life-saving issue. Deb Kurland

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2008 at 7:36 am

If the exchange of money pollutes the organ transaction, then let everyone donate.

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Posted by juli
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Stanford students sell sperm and eggs, you see adds in the Stanford Daily all the time.

Women rent out their wombs and act as surrogate mothers -- they get paid

So should organ donors

Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm

The problem with paying for organs is identical to the problem with paying for blood. in the '70's and '80's, one could donate blood in exchange for a few dollars. This did not work because most donations had to be tossed - high alcohol content, infection, etc. etc.

The world has not changed that much since that time. The same problems that plagued paid blood donations would plague paid organ donations.

We need to think smart about this - and not repeat past mistakes.

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Posted by Registered donor
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Selling organs is immoral, but you could still build in an incentive.

Set it up like an insurance policy. If you register as a donor and stay continuously registered then you move up in the line if you don't die in a horrible car wreck, but need an organ transplant later on.

The longer you have been continually registered as a donor, the farther up the line you would move. It shouldn't be the only criterion of course. Tissue compatability and medical need should still be factored in.

But if you make it clear to high school kids that they will get priority treatment if they ever need an organ later in life, a lot of them would fill out the donor form.

And why not? It's a win-win scenario.

If there's still an organ shortage after that we could consider repealing the seatbelt laws or banning bicycle helmets...(joke!)

Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Registered donor,

That's exactly what I meant by thinking smart! We have to incentive-ize the system so folks are motivated to donate without making it financial. We've seen the dark side of paid donations already...

We should all be grateful for this guest opinion. Normally, it's the converted preaching to the converted when it comes to organ donation. The Weekly did good in helping get the message out there.

Like this comment
Posted by registered donor, at least I think I am
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Change to an opt-out model. Most potential donors just don't get around to filling out the forms.

Like this comment
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 14, 2008 at 5:15 pm

"Selling organs is immoral" Why?
"donate blood in exchange for a few dollars." This is not a capitalist transaction. "Donate" means to present as a gift. I don't see any "thinking smart" here in comparing this to a free buyer-seller transaction.

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