Our nation faces an alarming organ shortage. Every day, twenty-two people die because they cannot get a transplant and the donor wait list is more than 121,000 people long.
Depending on the organ, wait lists can be up to ten years long, past the point a patient can survive. Not only does this lead to a loss of life, but this also drains Medicare and other social service funds, which ultimately places a burden on taxpayers.
Each transplant can save an average of $745,000 in medical costs, of which 75 percent of the savings is to taxpayers. Additionally, a patient who has received a kidney transplant has an added 10-15 years when compared to those who remain on dialysis. If the supply of transplant kidneys increased, taxpayers could save more than $5.5 billion per year in medical costs.
The Organ Donor Clarification Act, introduced by Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), addresses our nation’s pressing organ shortage, and eradicates the taxpayer burden.
First, the act allows for the creation of pilot programs in order to test the promotion of organ donation through non-cash incentives. It should be noted that this legislation has no budgetary impact, it solely authorizes the creation of programs, which must be approved through the normal process.
Second, this legislation clarifies that certain reimbursements, such as travel or medical care expenses do not constitute “valuable consideration.” Under current law, organ donors are prohibited from receiving any valuable consideration in exchange for their donation. This is meant to prevent individuals from selling their organs but also serves as a disincentive for otherwise prospective donors because they are prohibited from being reimbursed for common expenses.
It is imperative that we address the nation’s organ donation shortage, and the Organ Donor Clarification Act does so. It will save both lives and taxpayer dollars. ATR supports this bill and encourages all Members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the Organ Donor Clarification Act.