Monday, March 20, 2006

More education won't reduce the organ shortage

In an editorial yesterday, the Mankato Free Press mentions "giving organ donors priority status on the national waiting list" as a way to entice people to donate organs.

The editorial continued by saying that "it would make more sense to educate people about the benefits [of organ donation] and hope they can make an informed decision." Actually, education would not make more sense. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on educational efforts designed to increase organ donation rates, but the organ shortage continues to get bigger every year.

Bioethics Arthur Caplan puts it really well. In his bioethics column for MSNBC, he wrote: "Americans are well aware of organ donation. Public education campaigns have been letting people know about the 'Gift of Life' for 30 years. One more pamphlet at the office or a few more minutes in drivers ed is not going to boost the percentage of people who sign donor cards beyond what has already been achieved through concerted public education efforts."

More of the same is not the answer. For the sake of the 91,000 Americans now waiting for transplants, we should try something new. How about giving organ donors priority status on the national waiting list? That's what LifeSharers does.

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