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December 15, 2010

Improving the Supply of Donor Organs: Being Careful With the Gift of Life

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

JAMA. 2010;304(23):2643-2644. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1846

Donor organs are a valuable but scarce resource that provide a lifesaving procedure to thousands of patients per year. However, the demand for organs of all types far exceeds supply. In 2009, 50 463 patients were added to the United Network for Organ Sharing's wait list, 28 463 patients received an organ transplant, and 6683 patients died while waiting for a suitable organ.1 Despite substantial effort and research devoted to improving donation rates in the United States, these rates remain substantially lower than those in many other developed countries.2 Many techniques such as implied consent, opt-out policies,3 breakthrough collaborative and quality improvement methods,4 and financial incentives5,6 have been proposed to expand the pool of organ donors.