Today in this country, there are more than 200,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. Many of these people will wait for years, bed ridden, ill, and a significant percentage of them will die without ever receiving the organ they needed to lead a normal life.
There is no practical reason that this problem still exists. We have the technology to handle the transplants. Insurance companies are willing to cover them. We could easily harvest enough organs from people dying in this country to provide all the organs we’d ever need. But, as a society, we simply haven’t bothered to address the issue in any meaningful way.
New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky nearly lost his daughter, Willie, at 4 years old when she needed a kidney transplant, and again 10 years later when her second kidney failed.
“We have 10,000 New Yorkers on the list today waiting for organs. We import half the organs we transplant. It is an unacceptable failed system,” Brodsky said.
To fix that, Brodsky introduced a new bill in Albany that would enroll all New Yorkers as an organ donor, unless they actually opt out of organ donation. It would be the first law of its kind in the United States.
“Overseas, 24 nations have it. Israel has it. Others have it. And it works without a lot of controversy,” Brodsky said.
Currently one of the biggest obstacles to being a donor is while 9 out of 10 are favorable to it only 1 out of 10 is signed up to be a donor.
There was a time when I wouldn’t have supported opt-out organ donations, but in all honesty, if I were voting on this bill today, I would vote for it. Admittedly, I’d like to see it sweetened a bit – perhaps with some sort of tax break for the surviving relatives of an organ donor, paying out a stipend of a few thousand dollars, or even covering the funeral costs. That may sound really expensive, but given the price of organ transplants, you’d probably be talking about a relatively small percentage of the costs.
Of course, it would also be extremely important to make sure people were given every opportunity to opt out. A mailing informing all New Yorkers of their rights and a reminder every time people went in to get a driver’s license could be an appropriate way to handle it.
If they were willing to go that far, it would not only be a bill that I could support with no qualms whatsoever, it would be a legislative policy I’d like to see spread all across the United States.