Monday, February 28, 2011

Failure is pre-determined

Reader rgsnave sends email to point out this:

The number of kidneys available for transplants falls far short of the need, so there is no choice but to ration them. An emotionally difficult proposal to change the first-come-first-served transplant system makes good sense.

There are nearly 90,000 people on waiting lists to receive kidney transplants, and in 2009 there were only some 10,400 kidneys from dead donors to give them. And about 6,300 kidneys were transplanted from living people who donated one of their two kidneys and usually specified the recipient.
The Times' editorial goes on to discuss how to ration kidneys, based on all sorts of math and stuff.  They don't get that their editorial goes off the rail in the first sentence.

No choice but rationing?  How about letting people sell them?  Sure, this is double-plus ungood, immoral, yadda yadda yadda.  But nobody argue that letting people sell a kidney would not increase the supply of healthy transplants.

So let's talk about the moral aspect.  Actually, the Times' editorial's second paragraph starts this, and continues it here:
Currently the kidneys from dead donors are provided, through an organ procurement and transplantation network, to people who have been waiting the longest. That may seem fair since many transplant candidates wait for years, and some die while waiting.
So: people are waiting years, and sometimes die before getting to the top of the list.  Tens of thousands of people are waiting, and suffering.  Quite frankly, I would say that it's immoral to propose "rational management" of that suffering before you propose trying to eliminate that suffering.

But I didn't go to an Ivy League, so what do I know?  Besides, the Times' rationing proposal will provide all sorts of opportunities for "the right people" to get great paying jobs in health care, in positions of power.  With ample opportunity to bump their friends up to the top of the list, and their enemies down to the bottom.  But remember, it's the only moral choice.


Divemedic said...

Everyone involved in the organ transplant, from the guy who mops the surgery room floor, to the person who does the paperwork, to the doctors and nurses, make money in the transaction EXCEPT the person who donated the kidney. Because that would be immoral.

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect example of motorcycle helmet laws costing lives. In states where there are manditory helmet laws the transplant waiting time is considerably longer than in states where helmets are not required. What moral justification is there requireing dumb-ass Harley riders to wear a helmet when they are such great organ suppliers. Give them a chance to contribute something worth while.

Jehu said...

If we insist that kidneys not be sold, let's at least let the DONOR set the priorities for the kidneys they donated. For instance, if they want the kidney to go to a white, male, Christian who is a net taxpayer and has at least 2 children, then the system should honor that preference insofar as is possible.

ASM826 said...


After 2014, no one in the system will make money on the transaction. It won't happen right away, but I'll bet we see transplant rates drop off when there is no longer a profit motive for the hospitals. But it will be more moral, because health care is a right.

Chris said...

Basic economics: Set a price floor on something (in this case, zero dollars for a kidney), and there will be a shortage of that thing. And so, as ASM826 pointed out, when the price of healthcare is set to "zero dollars" (for the "consumer"), there will be a shortage of that, too. The legislature is pissing into the wind when they try to pass laws against the laws of supply and demand.

SiGraybeard said...

If anyone needs a fat donor, free, I'm there for you.

TOTWTYTR said...

The answer to this is to grow new organs, using the patient's own stem cells as the basis.

As they say over at Instapundit: "Faster please!"

Our grand kids will look back on this type of debate as quaint. Barbaric, but quaint.

NotClauswitz said...

They can't have mine, besides they wouldn't want it.