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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.
  • Anonymous

    My brother in law just got a new liver through organ donation – more people should be listed as organ donors – one donor = many lives saved

  • Wm.James from Missouri

    I know this is a small thing in comparison to the issue of this hour but I would recommend that more people look at supplements as a disease prevention tool. Supplements like, Milk Thistle, NAC, glutathione, etc. ( there are very many) can go a long way in detoxifying your body, which can help prevent disease. I can testify to the effectiveness of many supplements I and others I know take and have taken. There is a valuable book by Phyllis Bauch (sp?) that is widely available at book stores and vitamin shops. Of course there are many others. Let’s not forget Dr. OZ, he has many informed guest that freely recommend supplements based on the latest population studies. The web is full of information too. I warn you though, over hyping, is a downside.

    If you haven’t seen the recent PBS show on “growing” organs, you should. You will be amazed when you see the actual living, breathing lung and the beating heart, that labs are now able to grow from stem cells. I am betting that the day of transplants are numbered.

  • Zeno

    Should people be allowed to sell their own organs. Is that free trade?

    • Yar

      This is a different can of worms. Like the pawn shop that says ‘if we don’t have it today we will get it tonight.’
      I would hate to be seen as having a valuable liver or heart. Isn’t there is already a black market for organs in some other countries?

  • Richard L. Davis

    I would like to appear on your show to talk about the following: It was not until the 1970s that researchers in the academe earnestly researched why so many family members, intimate partners and peers use assaultive, battering and/or coercive behavior to “get their way” regardless of age gender or sexual orientation. Massachusetts General Law 209A, section (a) defines “abuse” between family or household members as “attempting to cause or causing physical harm.” Through a number of Massachusetts Supreme Court decisions the court has ruled that “under certain circumstances” it is not “abuse” to repeatedly beat a child with a belt. The board of Family NonViolence Inc. (FNI) believes that if you are on the receiving end of a belt you might disagree. FNI is supporting legislation that would open a dialogue to discuss what FNI believes is a disconnect of logic and common sense concerning these two propositions. To date, this attempt to engage members of the legislature, the media and the general public in this discussion has received little to no support. FNI urges you to visit their website at http://familynonviolence.wordpress.com/ for more details. Interveners for child, sibling, spousal, intimate partner, elder abuse and bullying agree that anyone who remains a bystander is silently condoning the behavior they witness. FNI urges you to contact members of the legislature, the media and discuss this issue among colleagues, family and friends.
    Richard L. Davis
    President, Family NonViolence Inc

  • Marc_cecere

    How much of this is a temporary problem? I read that organs such as bladders and knees are, at least in part, already being regrown and implanted into patients. These may just be clinical trials and I understand it takes a long time for these procedures to become widely available, but wouldn’t these eventually be more economical and put the ethical issues in the same bucket as other medical procedures.

    If regrowth is coming, which organs, how soon and what are the costs?

    • Rrsafety

      Nothing like that for kidneys, hearts or livers for at least another decade.

  • Rob (in NY)

    In an ideal world, there would be enough organ donors to accomodate all of those who need organs. However, in the meantime there needs to specific rules that everyone understands. I have a couple of questions regarding this rather difficult situation.

    1) Please discuss how the process of allocating organ donations by age works? Is this just a simple reverse allocation by age? Or does this also take into account lifestyle?

    2) Has any thought been given to putting those who abuse their organs through alcohol/drug abuse,etc…. to the bottom of the list? I see no reason why someone who did not intentionally destroy their organs throught lifestyle choices (young or old) should have to wait for a liver donation so that some drunken fool who is at the top of a waitintg list can destroy a second liver. Sadly, I have seen this happen.

  • Yar

    I would prefer organ donation to be an opt out process instead of an opt in. Alternately the health insurance industry could give a discount rate for signing up as an organ donor. Waiting for organs may cause more medical expenses, if so the industry can justify the rate difference.

    • Rob (in NY)

      I agree. When a person is dead, why should they care how their organs are used?

  • Sonia


    Great topic! Should people like Steve Jobs, a man in his 50s who apparently received a liver transplant after a diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer, jump to the head of the transplant line, because of their “value” to society in creating jobs, new devices, etc.? Or should somebody “less valuable” but younger and who has no history of cancer (a truck driver with three kids?) have gotten the liver instead? How do we know whether national transplant registries are uninfluenced by class, wealth, occupation, or other measure of “value” or “goodness”?

    If we ever get to universal health care in this country, should organ transplants be covered, or should those operations be reserved only for children, or for the wealthy who can pay above and beyond basic health coverage? Out of fairness, should these operations be covered for all?

  • Michael

    “Allocating Organs: Who Gets the Next Kidney?”

    answer:the one with the most money

    Than the rest are pretty much a lotto or luck

  • Michael

    But kind of silly giving to a old person who may die in a few years (due to old age)

  • Pancake with biscuit heart

    Medicine remains primitive. The manipulation of cellular biology that would enable tissue regeneration and compatible synthetic organs has not (yet?) come about. Even minimally invasive surgery is risky and involves crude mechanical tools similar to what might be used on machinery. To evaluate how crude transplant is consider:
    Highly paid workers cut into one body using knives and saws. An organ is removed. That organ is then incorporated into the body of a second subject. The second must ingest special substances to prevent rejection for the remainder of life and is usually disabled.
    Sounds like a modified form of ritual cannibalism to me.
    I think we deny and avoid some truths surrounding transplants.

    • dw

      against surgery, transplants ?
      What “truths” are avoided ?

  • Anachronisticcamel

    While I am sympathtic, I really detest the push for everyone to be an organ donor. I am not for several reasons, one of which is I’m not healthy enough for my organs to be usefull. we tend to dicount the fact that for every approved organ there are many which are discounted as unusable. Also there is surprising push back against any one who choses not to for religous reasons. I would rather hear a discussion about WHY we assume everyone should just give up something as personal and intergral as organs at death.

    Roxanne, New Orleans

    • Anonymous

      Anyone who opts out for religious reasons to be a donor better be kept of the list if he or she needs one later. No death bed conversions to science.

      • Cary

        what was that scripture about giving up one’s life for a friend?

    • dw

      You don’t believe in organ donating – but if you needed a kidney would you sign up for one ?

    • Rrsafety

      Roxanne, unless you are a transplant surgeon (which I doubt) it is unlikely that you are knowledgeable enough to determine which of your organs are or are not suitable for transplant. Even if they are unsuitable, it is likely that you could be a tissue donor instead.

      Also, can you tell which religions in the United States are against organ donation and would rather allow individuals to die rather than receive transplants? I know of none, but perhaps you have some special information on the topic.

      Lastly, what are you “giving up” by becoming a donor. Do you know what happens to the human body when it is buried or cremated? If you really cared about maintaining the integrity of the human body, you’d be begging to donate rather than let all of yourself disintegrate underground.

    • Cary

      Because sister, you don’t need it anymore. As they say, you can’t take it with you.

  • Alan

    It should go to whoever can pay off the anesthesiologist’s BMW.

  • Anonymous

    “Transplant organs and who should come first. The young, the old, or the first in line?” – You forgot one group – the rich.

  • Cory

    I’ll betcha wealth/power play a role.

  • Milly

    The allocation of organs for transplant should not involve judging recipients on how good a person or how deserving they are. In fact, I think the more arbitrary the process seems to those of us on the outside, the more fair it probubly is. Who can decide which deathly ill people are more “deserving” of a lifesaving organ? None of us can. If it was your family member who needed a transplant, I’m sure you would see them as the most deserving person on that list, no matter how old, young, sick, rich, or poor they are.

    • Rrsafety

      The computer that decides who gets the next organ has no idea how “deserving” a person is. The only thing the computer knows is how long someone has been waiting, there body size, how sick they are, location, and their blood type. Beyond that the computer has no information regarding fame or wealth.
      Folks should learn about how the computer algorithm works before passing judgment on it.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone except the donor receives either an economic or health benefit from the transplant. Selling organs is probably a bad idea but anyone who signs up as a donor (while healthy at the time of the commitment) should be compensated by receiving preference in line if he or she needs one in the future.

    • Rrsafety

      This is a great idea that has been around for a while, but a congressional legislator needs to take it on as a cause. People who refuse to donate should go to the end of the line.

  • pam

    This same question was posed to Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the cardio-thoracic surgeon who performed the world’s first human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967.
    While visiting in American, he appeared before a senate committee that posed the question “how does a person decide who gets the heart when several are in need.” He response was very simple “who is the sickest patient.” That is the deciding factor. Nothing else.

    • Rrsafety

      Bad idea and likely to waste many, many organs on patients who are likely to die even if they receive a transplant. Better to transplant those who have yet to become dangerously sick so they might make better use of the organ.

  • Sam Kopper

    The simplest most moral way to both decide who gets organs first AND to hugely boost the number of organs available – Organs DONORS should, when they need an organ, go to the front of the line! I was in line at the RMV once when the woman in front of me was asked if she wanted to be an organ donor. She lurched back in horror as she nearly yelled “No way.” That sort of ignorance, superstition, and/or utter lack of caring for humanity should have consequences. Likewise, people who care enough to give of themselves, in life (such as a kidney donor) or after life (heart, lungs, etc) should be meaningly thanked, ie: rewarded.

  • Anonymous

    I have been an organ donor for over 20 years and it is listed on my license. For me, it is a no brainer, but many people just cannot imagine donating. My husband was all set to “live” donate but the hoops he had to jump through because of the Ins cos. were a lesson in time-wasting when time was of the essence. My BIL opted for cadaver donor because his chances of getting an organ sooner were increased and he was getting sicker & sicker. To get on the list you must be sick enough to go to the top of the list and yet healthy enough to have the surgery. A very fine line indeed!!!

  • Christina Birdsong

    Wait a minute! Regarding the concept that younger people get the kidney is a form of ageism. Ageism is unacceptable whether it regards housing, employment or other rights. The kidney issue is a human rights issue and the aged should not be at the bottom of the list. There should be NO list. I’m no ad genius but even I can think of dozens of ways to ramp up an education campaign to let people know about organ donation.

    • Rrsafety

      Please provide your ideas?

  • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

    Who gets to vote? Only those needing kidneys or donating the organ should get to decide how they are distributed. It is a “new-style” democracy first alluded to in some of Robert A. Heinlein’s novels. He first used it in talking about war. Only those who have to actually fight would decide if we go to war.

    When it comes to divveying up organ donations it is one of those big questions that is beyond the normal realm of human experience/expertise to actually decide fairly. So the only ones qualified to decide are those most directly affected. Personally I feel the donor themself should also have a vote.

    For example- 100 donors, 900 needing transplant. The vote is 30% to those first in line and 70% to the youngest. So 30 of the organs would go to those first in line while the other 70 would go to the youngest.

    • Rrsafety

      How do dead donors vote?

      • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

        Dead donors voted when they signed up to donate. Actually I would refine it even further by saying that the donors votes should be “weighted” so that they have 50% of the say in the decision who receives organs. The other 50% weighting goes to those on the organs needed list. There are of course little difficulties along the way, involving logistics, supply, etc.What I proposed was not a be all end all

  • Anonymous

    What is the usual age when people start needing kidneys as adults?

  • Steve L

    This has changed my perspective on being an organ donor.

    If I am not a candidate for receiving organs because of my age, I will no longer donate organs.

    Steve in Nashville

    • Rrsafety

      In what way are you not a candidate for an organ because of age? Please explain.

      Sounds like you just don’t want to be a donor but expect to get an 18 year old’s donor if you ever need one. Sounds greedy.

    • Cory

      Oh C’mon Steve! Don’t take your organ and go home!

  • Sharon

    When my mother was 70 her kidneys failed, she was in a coma and swelled up until each of her fingers was like a sausage. I thought there should be a kidney transplant but the nephrologist said no, that her kidneys would eventually kick in. The issue was, he said, whether she’d die first. Then, when she was on the brink of death, her kidneys began working and she lost 80 lbs in a couple of days. Her nephrologist, in his 40′s, died a few yrs later of a heart attack while on vacation.
    Today I am in my 60′s and I believe that there should be a ranking; that the young or otherwise healthy (not drink or drug abusers, please) should get priority.
    BTW, my mother lived to 98.

  • Kerry_pound

    Kidney transplant is wonderful, but not necesarily “life and death” as we have dialysis to artificially replace kidneys. This is a issue of “quality” of life which is a much more interesting ethical issue. -Kerry, Marblehead, MA

    • loppan

      That’s simply not true. Dialysis is a treatment…it’s not something that someone can do for an unlimited amount of time. People’s dialysis ports become infected, unusable. It IS life and death. I challenge you to say something about quality of life to the thousands hooked up to dialysis machines.

  • Longfeather

    General Petraus would have plenty people step up for him if he needed a kidney due to ‘medication side effects.” What needs to be quantified is what emergency medical procedures, have as their side effects kidney failure, at any age and health of victim. Does the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession not want the public to know that they may be asked for a kidney by their parent who is insured from a child, not insured, due to medical side effects.

    • Pancake Rankin

      General David Petraeus? That was way out of the blue, Feather.
      (Do you know something of his medication I don’t?)
      What Petraeus needs is a heart (conscience) not a kidney.
      Recently he accused powerless villagers of shooting and burning their own children to make him look bad. He’s bad, bad to the bone.
      (Maybe he needs a bone transplant so he can “cross the Rubicon” and pursue the Presidency.)

  • Anonymous

    Why is the focus here mostly on kidneys when people needing liver transplants have almost no options.

    • Rrsafety

      The new suggested allocation protocol is only for kidneys. The liver allocation system has already switched from “time waiting” to a more complex “how sick are you” formula. That is why.

  • bethany

    My mom, age 63, donated a kidney a few months ago to my dad, age 74. I feel so fortunate that my mom was a willing and eligible donor, that my dad was healthy enough to go through the surgery, that they had health insurance that would cover most of the expenses related to it, and that their was a highly skilled surgeon was willing to do the transplant given their ages. They are both doing very well and my dad’s prognosis is quite positive.

  • Ian

    It seems like the length and quality of life is a factor here, but where do you draw the line? One could argue that people who can contribute the most to society should receive transplants first. People with specialized jobs requiring higher education and people with children, and CEOs (!) would be prioritized, while people with criminal records or menial jobs would be penalized. That would put the kidney to the collective best use, but who would want to live in that society?

    • Cory

      Conservatives, republicans, tea baggers, the wealthy…… Just to name a few.

  • Marjorie

    Tom! Help me raise awareness that the alternative health fields may have something other than transplant as an option. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we have other ways of assessing the body and treating the kidneys, both through dietary shifts and acupuncture points. At least while people are waiting possibly in vain for a donor, they could try acupuncture/acupressure or even homeopathy, and stand to get all the way better!.

    • Anonymous

      or buy kidneys from China

  • Anonymous

    My BIL was told if he moved to the mid-west he would have a chance of getting a liver sooner – huh??

    • Rrsafety

      True. In the Midwest and South there are more accident victims, homicide, stroke and heart attack. That is why there are more donors.

      • Anonymous

        A person with limited financial means would not be able to up and move to another part of the country – they would lose their job and, most likely, the health benefits tied to it. Not to mention moving away from your support base (family/friends) – it doesn’t seem like a reasonable suggestion for most people who are already ill.

  • Cincoymaya

    I feel a little like a Nazi eugenicist but I have a problem with giving kidneys to people who have genetic reasons for needing organs. I know its harsh but those people may have children and pass along their genetic weakness. On the other hand, as a 67 year old, I don’t believe organ transplantation should be available to me.

    If someone needs a kidney because of environmental factors they should go to the top of the list.

    • Cory

      Shoot! How many of us on any given day can say we feel like a Nazi Eugenicist?! Gotta love this show!

    • Lucy

      Most kidney failure is due to genetic illness which is something that is not choosen.

  • Longfeather

    “Fairness” is the person who has insurance, so can get attention to medical conditions, and not take emergency medicine, and side effects. Previous comenter refers to “Not drug abusers.” Well, what are pharmaceuticals, abused, by having insurance and medicines and therefore cummulative side effects.

  • Bill

    Shouldn’t there be some consideration of giving some priority to people who have committed to be organ donors? This would no doubt result in more available organs.

  • Jim

    I don’t understand why there is a ban on folks voluntarily selling a kidney. If I am willing to make an INFORMED decision, knowing the risks of the procedure, why can’t I choose to sell a kidney to a person in need? I would gladly GIVE a kidney to a family member in need, but since I’m not in that situation, why shouldn’t I be allowed to sell one to a non-family member who needs a transplant? Seems to me that adding a financial incentive to donate would immediately increase the number of sick folks that could be helped, while giving financial gain to the donor.

    In light of arguments that we shouldn’t regulate abortion, for example, because we have the “right to make decisions about our own bodies,” this seems to be in the same category of argument, isn’t it? Why should it be illegal to sell an organ?

    • Anonymous

      Would a second kidney be considered an asset and thus available to creditors?

      • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

        Let’s hope so!

    • Cory

      I agree with you Jim. You should also be able to sell yourself sexually to the highest bidder. I might even agree with your free-market right to sell the “extra” kidneys of any dependents who might live with you. Cheers!

      • Ray

        Nice how the sniper class elites on here don’t address a very serious and legitimate question, but rather – choose to be snarky and sarcastic. But then again, this is to be expected from a group that has never met a free market they didn’t consider inherently evil.

    • Pancake with biscuit heart

      You exhibit the profile of an ideal testicle donor.

      • Hugh Jass

        Better that than being a living brain donor like you.

    • Jeanie

       Selling organs leaves the poor to be exploited in the worst possible way. Go look at stories of people who sold their kidneys in areas in the world where it’s legal.

  • Terry Tullis

    People who donate a kidney should be at the top of the list for receiving a kidney if they need one in the future. If this policy were well-publicized it could greatly increase the number of live donors

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think this would provide much of an incentive to become a live donor as keeping both of one’s kidneys is the option that most benefits an individual’s personal health.

    • Rrsafety

      This is already the case.

  • Warden

    I gave a kidney to my husband two years ago. What a blessing that I was able to do so. I encourage everyone to consider giving a kidney as this will solve the problem that these regulations are grappling with. It was not easy but other than the surgery I have had not problems and my husband is living a normal life without dialysis. We are thankful for every day. Selling organs is not the answer as the rich will take advantage of the poor.

  • Jayhope48

    Some of the fears about ageism around this issue I feel are unwaranted, and maybe irrational. My bias is that saving the most years of life seems the logical bias, because A: death is inevitable B: and coping/accepting death is of utmost importance for any authentic life.

  • Varsha

    I am a 45 year old kidney transplant recepient ….my transplanted kidney is 10 years older. I am doing wonderful… thanks for the newer medications and technology. My comment to the older patients is … do not be discouraged with an older kidney if you could get one…it works just fine!

  • Michael


    Here comes the excuses as to why the rich have loop-holes (ML).

    No moral basis for (ML) where one who have resources(i.e. rich) are advantaged by such.

  • Mike W.

    Bidding for organs?! Beyond comprehensible and reprehensible. Sure, throw it up on Ebay! Too bad no one would ever be able to attain a super seller rating, unless we can profit from donating strands of hair.


    • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

      Can I sell my hair plugs/follicles? How much are they bringing? Would it be deceptive to list white hair plugs as light, light blonde?

  • Byron Simms

    Of course the kidneys should go to the youngest, fittest recipients, assuming that you agree that organ donation is an ethical, proper approach to aging and disease. I do NOT agree with this premise, for a multitude of reasons, none of them religion-based.
    This type of moral conundrum was inevitable once we decided to go down the organ transplant road; now we need to make the decisions in what could be considered a cold and rational manner.
    The irony is that no potential recipient (barring accident/injury), can be considered “fit” – otherwise they would not need parts from another person’s body to begin with!

    Byron Simms

    • VH

      … and of course patients like me who are genetically predisposed but otherwise perfectly fit!

    • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

      That’s why I think the donors and the donees should decide on organ distribution as I outlined at 11:17AM

  • John of Harrisonburg, VA

    My 58-year-old spouse has been on hemodialysis since November 2006; she continued working full-time until September 2008 when her condition worsened severely. She’s been waiting since 2006 for a kidney. . . . And I’ve been waiting. A kidney for her means she will be able to live independently again, and for me it means a chance to reclaim my own life. We were on the verge of divorce before her kidneys failed, and my conscience would not me to abandon her to face her fate alone. As a result, her situation has impacted my life in the following ways: forced early retirement, severely strained finances (especially since her health insurance was canceled), loss of friends and social life, longstanding depression, and health problems. . . . and TIME. When she spends 12 hours a week–or 26 days a year–in hemodialysis, so do I. Bottom line: What must be considered is TWO lives are in the balance whenever one spouse needs a kidney. A kidney transplant saves TWO lives–not just one.

    • Rrsafety

      Any potential living donors among family and friends? That would solve the problem rather than waiting for a deceased donor kidney.

      • John of Harrisonburg, VA

        We mined those possibilities long ago. There were volunteers (I being first among them) who agreed to be typed. They were unsuitable because they were not a match and/or disqualified for other medical reasons (ie. high blood pressure). Nevertheless, thank you for asking.

        • Jeanie

           Try and exchange. You donate to someone who is a match and she gets a kidney from someone who matches her. The string are getting really long now with the help of computers. If everyone who needed a kidney had someone donate “forward” so that their loved one would receive a matched kidney we would significantly lower the number of people who need, but cannot get, a kidney. It also results in closer matches for patients generally to, so its a win win.

  • 2shirleyhiggins

    Could my potential kidney donation benefit my heir at some point in the future by placing him or her higher on a waiting list? What are the ethics involved?

  • Rrsafety

    People can register as organ donors anywhere in the US by going to Donate Life Americas website http://www.DonateLife.net

  • Cory

    Organs should go to the wealthiest and most powerful among us. America is about equality of opportunity, not equality of results. The wealthy and powerful have through their own efforts proven themselves most deserving of healing and longer life. Why isn’t this obvious to patriotic Americans?

    • Pete in SC

      Do you go by another name, “Cory”….Dick Cheney perhaps?!

      • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

        Cory is just being ironical or really, really, dense.

    • Jillian

      I take it Cory is being facetious? otherwise…this comment doesn’t even deserve a response.

    • Oooldfaaart

      Aare You nuts. Most of the really wealthy in this country are scumbags and thieves, more like Madoff and others like him as opposed to people who work hard and deserve the fruits of their labor.

  • Zeno

    Its 10PM, do you know where your kidneys are?


    • Charles A. Bowsher in KY

      Not even funny, in fact a little gross and tasteless (in my humble opinion).

      • Zeno

        Lighten up Charles. Sorry if I offended, But. if you take life that seriously, it will be a living hell.

    • Yar

      It left me in stitches.
      Charles, yes it is tasteless, that why it is funny.
      You have to have a sense of humor.
      If we take ourselves too seriously all the time we will end up with a heart attack.
      I was married to nurse for twenty years, I guess gross is a matter of perspective.

      • Zeno

        I think there is about 20% of the population that believes that the Onion is real. It’s surprising, and a good test of mental acuity.

        I don’t know how people get through life without a sense of humor.

  • anon

    Of course, without decent insurance you don’t make the list at all …

    When that changes, I’ll check off the donor box.

    • Andy

      Thanks, my wife is waiting for a kidney. Nice to know that you’d rather tell yourself you’re making a point than allowing her to survive.

      • anon

        It’s not just a point. I spent many years without insurance, ineligible for any medical care outside of overpriced emergency rooms, and could easily find myself in that position again. I just can’t get past the fact that I would myself have been denied a transplant, regardless of my age, health, fitness, etc.

        Maybe if I could donate specifically to one of those Arizona Medicaid patients whose transplant coverage was recently withdrawn. Unfortunately, it’s already too late for some of them …

        • Andy

          It’s not too late for my wife. She is unable to work, leaving me with piles of medical bills. Even with medicare (which all transplant patients are given), it is difficult to make ends meet.

          When you have a friend who desperately needs a kidney, and you have to come to terms with the fact that you chose to have yours put in the ground instead of saving someone’s life, hopefully your sympathy will win out over your dogma.

          There are so many injustices in the world, and yes, everyone should have good health care. And everyone who needs a kidney should get one. You can do your part and save a life (or two, or three, or countless more as a donor). Help us. Please.

          • anon

            If I had a friend or relative in need of a kidney, I would consider live-donating one. Assuming I had adequate insurance coverage at the time, of course.

            You have my sympathy, but I’ve made my decision and my conscience is clear. Plenty of people take all their organs to the crypt or crematorium who have never worried about paying a doctor’s bill; talk to them. My reasons are admittedly emotional, but also extremely personal and not based on dogma, superstition, or medical paranoia. No doubt some older folks will revoke their donor cards if this policy change takes effect, and I wouldn’t blame them. Being eligible-to-give but ineligible-to-receive doesn’t sit right with me, either. It’s a voluntary system, and I choose not to be an organ farm, unless I die in a country that gives everybody a fair crack at them.

            I don’t expect you (or anyone else here) to understand my feelings on this topic. They are visceral and intense, and have resisted mediation by rationality. I knew my statement would be unpopular. Nonetheless, we are talking about my body, my health, and a system that has denied me care – what could be more personal? I reserve the right to my feelings, and to my choice. Thank you for discussing this civilly, and I do wish you and your wife well.

    • lis

      My sister-in-law has to be on medicare because she is so sick she can’t work. She’s on the list. She can’t GET real medical insurance, and she won’t make it another 2 years without a transplant.

    • Rrsafety

      So you would have people die while we fix the insurance problem? That seems a bit dim.

    • Politicaobscura

      Anon, you do know that all those waiting for kidney transplants in the US are covered by Medicare don’t you? So you are wrong, if you needed a kidney while uninsured you would have been automatically covered.

      • anon

        Tell that to the (remaining) Arizona Medicaid recipients that were recently yanked off the transplant list – maybe you know something they don’t.

        • Politicaobscura

          Actually, you are incorrect. Potential kidney recipients were NOT taken of the Arizona list. So get your facts straight.

          • anon

            However, potential heart, lung, pancreas, bone marrow and liver recipients WERE taken off the Arizona list. That’s a difference without distinction, as far as I’m concerned.

      • Arthur Dufault

        Type your comment here.Not everyone is covered by Medicare. If you are 65 or older or disabled you can be covered by Medicare. However, Medicare only covers 80% of the cost…You would need additional insurance to cover the full costs..such as amedicare supplement if you are 65 or older.

  • Austin

    Thank you for covering this issue! Thank you Dr Kenneth Andreoni and the United Network of Organ Sharing for being so up front about the review of this vitally important area of Healthcare and what changes are being considered as this discussion continues over the next year and onward. Best of luck and please continue to keep all of us informed about this! – Regards, AB

  • Mandimorris

    Have you seen this facebook page? Organs are needed and awareness of living donors is of paramount importance. There are enough kidneys in the world, we need to make the donor process accessible.


  • Katiefranke

    Someone suggested Emily’s Kidney for me to friend on Facebook. A girl named Emily needs a kidney transplant, so her friends started this page for her kidney to “find” her :) It’s informative, it raises awareness, and it’s also kind of witty and fun. I highly recommend friending her.

    Also, I hope Emily finds her kidney :)

  • e. Dufault

    I am a kidney patient in the process of waiting for a kidney. I AM 67 years old. I have passed all the tests for getting a kidney and I am shocked with this law they are trying to pass. I don’t feel I need to die
    because they say I’m too old! They are trying to play God with the elderly. I have a lot to live for in my life, so please give us seniors a chance to enjoy our life and grandchildren. 67 and still going strong.

  • Lindsay

    The question, it seems, is: “Does everyone deserve the same consideration for eligibility to be an organ recipient?” Obviously the answer is “No, they don’t.” If you don’t believe this, try imagining a serial killer on death row getting a kidney before a PTA mom – not fair, right? So we need to start by being honest about criteria by which people can be judged, yes, JUDGED, for their eligibility. I don’t envy the people who must do this, but right now, it seems the main criterion is how much money someone has. There must be a better way.

  • http://twitter.com/okbb01 Robert Hickey

    I am an altruistic, non-related, living donor, kidney transplant recipient. This proposed new rule is intended to make Expanded Criteria Donor (ECD) organs, usually discarded as unsuitable for transplant, available to older patients. Problem is, these organs may be contaminated. There are several suits being litigated across the country on behalf of families who lost loved ones to contracted  infectious diseases such as Hep, metastatic cancer, and Hep C after beng transplanted with such contaminated ECD organs! Ask your local Organ Procurment Organization (OPO)what their organ procurement fee is! The average for a deceased ‘donor’ kidney is $45,000.00. No one ever gets an organ donated to them. OPO execs become millionaires from supposed  ‘donated’organs!
     go to http://www.iinovativestrategies.us for more info related to organ ‘donation’ fraud!


  • jyoti ray

    hi i am jyoti ray from india , want to donate my kidney to a needy person,my blood group is ab+ ,plz contact in my cell-09937093731 , 09124696295 ,mail-id  -sncsraj@yahoo.in

  • Jajones97

    i think the young should get them frist because we wonld need them and we wonld use them  little bit longer but if you 50 60 and you sick and you need a kindy and you been whating long thin the young people i wonld like for you to get it.

  • Ajajones97

    Hey, My nane is Aja and im 14 and i  have kidney promblesim and im also  on daylsis and i stay in detroit and need a kindey transplant and i just hope god bless me and keep me in his prayers and i belive that god going to make a way for me if i keep his name in my payers and just dont rush he and wat for a min  to get a transplant and i hope he make make me stronger and healthyer and wayeser and a better person so remeber always belive in he and just do what you got to and it will come your way slowy ……………………………………

  • Noe Reyes Jr.

    I’m a thirty three year old male married and have an 8yr. old boy and a wife bearing a child. I’m currently losing my home and am in financial distress. If someone could help me I’d be more then willing to give a kidney. Amount is negotiable. Atlanta is current residency.

    • Jeanie

      Sorry, but in the US selling organs is illegal. Best of luck to your family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/branislav.baclic Branislav Baclic

    I was 67 when I was transplanted.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

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Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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