NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 24, 2008

The United States labors under the ill conceived notion that the sale of organs should be prohibited under all circumstances, says the Cato Institute.

What are the consequences of this policy?

  • In the United, 341,000 patients suffering from end-stage renal disease were dialysis-dependent in 2005 -- triple the number in 1988.
  • More than 73,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, and by 2010, the waiting list is expected to grow to nearly 100,000.
  • Since 1999 more than 30,000 U.S. patients with kidney failure have died waiting for an organ that never arrived.


  • Nearly 6.5 percent of the Medicare budget, 21 billion dollars was spent on behalf of 0.6 percent of eligible beneficiaries with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in 2005.
  • Of that $21 billion, only $586 million was spent on kidney acquisition and transplantation.

In Iran however, the waiting list for kidneys was eliminated in 1999, 11 years after the legalization of organ vending.  For the past 8 years, Iran has had no waiting list for kidneys.  If a patient in need of a transplant cannot find a living biologically living relative willing to donate and waits for six months without receiving a kidney from a deceased donor, then the Dialysis and Transplant Patients Association (DATPA) identifies an immunologically compatible kidney vendor for the recipient.

DATPA is staffed by volunteers with ESRD and receives no remuneration for matching kidney vendors with recipients, and only Iranian citizens can act as donors and recipients.  Vendors are paid in two ways:

  • The Iranian government provides a fixed compensation to the vendor of approximately $1,200 plus limited health insurance coverage.
  • The vendor also receives remuneration either from the recipient or, from one of a series of designated charitable organizations; usually between $2,300 and $4,500.

Source: Benjamin E. Hippen, Organs Sales and Moral Travails'" CATO Institute, March 20, 2008.

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