Allocating Organs: Who Gets the Next Kidney?

Transplant organs and who should come first. The young, the old, or the first in line?

Eight-year-old Sarah Dickman is readied for kidney transplant surgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in Atlanta, in 2008. (AP)

Eight-year-old Sarah Dickman is readied for kidney transplant surgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, in 2008. (AP)

90,000 American are waiting for kidney transplants. In a typical year, only 10,000 show up from dead donors.

So, who should get the kidneys? The organ transplants? Longstanding policy has been, more or less, “first come, first served.” Now there’s a debate over a new approach that would openly, distinctly, advantage the young and disadvantage the old.

Advocates say “look, the young will use that kidney longer. They’ve got more life ahead of them.” But if you’re sick and 50, 60, more – what do you think?

This hour On Point: The transplant. Who gets what, and why? What’s fair? What’s right?

- Tom Ashbrook


Rob Stein, health reporter for the Washington Post. Read his article “Under kidney transplant proposal, younger patients would get the best organs.”

Kenneth Andreoni, professor of surgery at Ohio State University and chair of the Kidney Transplantation Committee, which is reviewing kidney organ procurement, distribution, and allocation for the United Network of Organ Sharing.

** See the full “concept document” and submit your comments.

Lainie Friedman Ross, professor and associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.

Arthur Caplan, professor and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

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