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Shortage of Transplant Organs Spurs Proposals But No Solution
Date:5/25/2010

Suggestions include 'presumed consent' and priority for those who pledge to donate

TUESDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Organ transplants save thousands of lives every year, but many more people languish on waiting lists because of a serious shortage of organs. While proposals to increase the supply have gained some followers, opinions differ on whether they will work -- or even if they should be tried at all.

"The bottom line is the organ shortage keeps getting bigger," said David Undis, executive director of a Nashville, Tenn., group that would give priority to people who have signed up as donors themselves. His solution is one of several garnering attention.

In New York, a state legislator introduced a bill in April that would assume all state residents were organ donors unless they specifically opted out. Called "presumed consent," the law would be a first for the United States, although similar policies exist in many European countries.

A similar bill introduced in Delaware in 2008 died in committee, said Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

In California, a state legislator has introduced a bill that would set up a registry of people willing to be living donors of kidneys. In many cases, living donors give a kidney to a family member or loved one. But sometimes, the loved one isn't a good match. A living donor registry would help with paired exchanges, in which a living donor could swap with a stranger in return for that person's loved one offering a kidney to theirs.

The registry is being championed by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the recipient of a donated liver, and is supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While their approaches differ, on one point everyone agrees: There aren't enough organs to meet the need. In the United States, about 100,000 adults and children are waiting for organ transplants, and 18
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