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.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 26, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

Nov 26, 2015
Jewel performs in the On Point Studio on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. (Liz Gillis / WBUR)

Singer-songwriter Jewel asked “who will save your soul”? Now she’s talking about saving her own. We’ll talk to Jewel.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »