NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Can Organ Donor Clubs Increase Organ Donations?

November 26, 2002

If you need a new heart or liver or kidney, you will find yourself at the mercy of the federal contractor (UNOS) that rations human organs to the $3 billion transplant industry.

Retired insurance broker David J. Undis figured reciprocal agreements might increase the number of organ donors -- and your odds in case you're ever in need of an organ. With this in mind, he started a not-for-profit organ-sharing Web site,

  • Each day 17 Americans die on UNOS' waiting list.
  • allows people to direct their organ donations after death first to the LifeSharers member who then ranks highest on the federal waiting list.
  • Directed-donations aren't forbidden by federal law provided the donor isn't paid.

The organs will go to someone else only if no Lifesharers member can use them. In theory, this is supposed to increase every Lifesharer members' odds of getting an organ in the event they need one.

Few people know about directed-organ donations. There were only 75 directed donations from dead Americans in 2001. David Undis of Lifesharers thinks he can increase that number. It may take time, however. The club needs at least 17,500 members before there's even a 50 percent chance that one potential donor will turn up brain-dead in a given year.

Source: Brigid McMenamin, "Organ Pact," Forbes, October 28, 2002.

For text


Browse more articles on Health Issues