Organ Shortage

February 21, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 7
Why don't more Americans donate?
By Brian Hansen

Introduction

Norberto Papa, left, and Napoleon Custodio show their kidney-surgery scars. They are among dozens of Philippinos who have sold their organs on the black market. The global trade in organs preys on poor donors.  (AP Photo/Pat Roque)
Norberto Papa, left, and Napoleon Custodio show their kidney-surgery scars. They are among dozens of Philippinos who have sold their organs on the black market. The global trade in organs preys on poor donors. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

Organ-transplant surgery is a proven approach to treating kidney failure, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. But most medically advanced countries are saddled with a wide gap between the number of transplant candidates and the number of available organs. Nearly 81,000 people in the U.S. are currently waiting for vital organs. Meanwhile, more than 6,000 Americans die every year because they don't get the organs they need in time. Some experts say allowing financial incentives for organ donation would eliminate the shortage. Others say the solution is xenotransplantation, or transplanting animal organs into humans. Meanwhile, critics contend the organ-allocation system favors affluent whites over minorities, and a global black market in organ parts targets desperately poor living donors.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Organ Transplants
Jul. 19, 2011  Organ Trafficking
Apr. 15, 2011  Organ Donations
Feb. 21, 2003  Organ Shortage
Aug. 11, 1995  Organ Transplants
Oct. 05, 1990  Transplants: Why Demand Exceeds Supply
Jul. 08, 1983  Renaissance in Organ Transplants
May 24, 1968  Heart Surgery and Transplants
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Medical Research and Advocacy