Rethinking organ donation


In a world were information is almost as expensive as time, why are we limiting it? A woman recently died after receiving a double lung transplant according to this BBC article. The lungs were unfortunately unhealthy.

Patient confidentiality is a right of individuals, no doubt. It also gives incentive for more people to donate. However, if personal contact information is withheld, what’s the harm in publishing medical records? It seems the price of having someone know whether or not I’ve smoked or have a history of cancer is lower than the price of a medical mishap like Ms. Griffin experienced.

In fact, why don’t we privatize the organ market? Firms, due to specialization and reputation, would better screen donors. Firms would also find the right level of information patients need to make an informed decision. Another solution, introduced by economist Robin Hanson, is to use futures markets in relation to a procedure’s success. It could be applied to almost any aspect of the medical market. This would collect, organize, and analyze published data to give patients quick indicators about medical decisions.

Patients may not want to go through another transaction when they’re in peril, but I think it’s worth a try. Especially in the midst of an economic crisis, we should be looking for innovative changes, not cuts alone. There is more to gain by thinking outside the box for problems like these. The beauty of the free-market is its ability to crush bad ideas extremely efficiently.