Organ Donation: State Efforts Have Done Little to Close the Supply Gap
In the U.S., an average of 21 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant, and the wait times can range from four months for a heart to five years for a kidney, depending on the how sick the patient is, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the Gift of Life Donor Program. But public policies have done little to close this gap between supply and demand, according to a study published earlier this month in JAMA Internal Medicine. In this look at the national impact of a variety of state policies on organ donation, researchers examined for the first time the effects of policies in 50 states between 1988 and 2010.
“We found that state policies during the past two decades had little to no effect,” the authors wrote. The only meaningful gains, they noted, resulted from state revenue streams to support recruitment activities such as community outreach, worksite campaigns, and efforts to educate physicians, lawyers and other professionals who may play a role in promoting organ donation. Such dedicated resources were associated with an increase of about 15 transplants per state per year, or a 5.3 percent boost in donated organs.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney who practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice consists of wills, powers of attorneys, living wills, trusts, asset protection and Medicaid (Medical Assistance).