One Solution to Shortage: Let People Sell a Kidney

Dylan Walsh suggests one way to reduce the number of patients who die waiting for a transplant
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2024 7:30 PM CDT
Let Government Pay People for a Kidney
Surgical instruments and supplies lay on table during a kidney transplant surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, in 2016.   (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Thousands of American die each year waiting for a kidney transplant. Without improvements in disease prevention and other changes, the National Kidney Foundation estimates, more than 1 million people will be dealing with kidney failure by 2030. So there's a need for kidneys, and Dylan Walsh writes in an opinion piece in the New York Times that maybe there should be a profitable market for them, too. The numbers tell a story of a story of "largely preventable suffering," Walsh writes, adding, the "long overdue answer: Pay people for their kidneys."

Hundreds of millions of healthy people have two kidneys, and he points out that "they need only one. The head-scratcher is how to get kidneys from the people who have one to spare into the people who need one." A flourishing kidney market could turn sleazy, but Walsh suggests one way to avoid that is to make federal government the only authorized purchaser of kidneys. The price would be fixed, and donors and recipients would not meet. The transplant itself would happen as it does now. Walsh, who has been living with a kidney his father gave him for 25 years, lays out arguments for and against such a system here. (More opinion stories.)

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