Transplant Organ Shortage

Feb 13, 2004


Dr. Alex Tabarrok
Professor of Economics
George Mason University 

Click Here to listen to audio archive.

Over 80,000 Americans await a life-saving transplant. 
17 people die every day because a donor is not found in time. 
In the past ten years alone, the waiting list for transplants has grown by over 300 percent.
Clearly, these numbers are not encouraging.  Despite millions in educational promotions and significant progress in the field of transplantation science, the national organ shortage remains one of our country’s most dire and least known, medical crises.  We’re often encouraged to become organ donors because “it’s the right thing to do.”  But if it’s the right thing to do, why are so many of us still so reluctant to register?  Perhaps some answers to this question can be explained by the economic incentives that permeate the donation process?

Participants in this seminar will view the problem through the lens of economics, in what will surely be an interesting and thought-provoking event.  Some questions that will be discussed at this seminar include:

  • Why is the organ shortage worsening at a time of such significant medical advancement?  
  • What are some alternatives to the existing system of organ procurement that might yield better results?  
  • How do varying incentive and rule structures affect donor behavior?