The LifeSharers Solution

A free-market solution to the organ shortage in the United States:

LifeSharers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit network of organ donors.

Membership

is free and open to all at http://www.lifesharers.com. Members

agree to

donate their organs when they die. Further, they direct that their

organs

be offered first to fellow members.

Giving organs first to organ donors accomplishes two things. First,

it

makes the organ allocation system fairer. Currently, about 70% of

the

organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't

agreed

to donate their own organs when they die. Second, it creates a

strong

incentive for non-donors to register as donors. Over 6,000

Americans die

every year waiting for organ transplants.

I hope you will join LifeSharers. It's free, and it could save your

life.

Below is an article about LifeSharers written by Larry Reed,

President of

the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you,

David J. Undis
Executive Director
LifeSharers
615-351-8622

----------------------------------------------------

Solving the Organ Donation Crisis Through Incentives
ISSN: 1093-2240
Monday, December 01, 2003
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=5966

By Lawrence W. Reed

Americans are known around the world as a people who do much for
themselves and don't wait for some agency of government to do things

for

them. People solving problems without the intrusion of politics is a
feature of American life we must seek to encourage, because it

usually

solves problems best, and preserves our liberties and pocketbooks at

the

same time. A great and recent example is a new private group called
LifeSharers.

The problem LifeSharers seeks to ameliorate is the nationwide

shortage of

human body organs. Federal law and many people's sensibilities

prevent a

genuine market in human organs, but the effect of those inhibitions

is to

claim about 17 Americans every day. That's how many die waiting for

a

heart, kidney, lung or other body organ - a daily toll that adds up

to

over 6,200 a year. Here's another way to look at it: People on the
transplant waiting list are dying at the rate of one every 90

minutes.

Today's donation system relies on little more than altruism: Leave

your

organs for others because it's a good thing to do. That may be an
admirable motive, but it has nonetheless yielded an intractable

shortage.

The sad fact is that only about 30 percent of Americans who die with
harvestable organs consented to donating. Making matters worse, the
families of those who did sign donor cards often veto the wishes of

the

deceased by refusing consent.

The altruistic approach has left us in a crisis because it fights

human

nature. We've been asking people to think about something that is

very

unpleasant, and to commit to doing something that is very scary,

without

giving them anything in return except a good feeling. Clearly, the

number

of people generous enough to make that trade isn't nearly enough to

supply

all the organs we need.

Enter David J. Undis, a 49-year-old retired insurance executive from
Nashville, Tenn. A former economics student, Undis reasoned that

some

old-fashioned incentive could be the cure for the organ crisis. The

law

prohibits monetary payment for organs, so he came up with another

powerful

motivator: putting organ donors at the front of the transplant

waiting

list. By doing so, he figured we could give everybody a strong

incentive

to sign a donor card because anybody who doesn't sign one will have

to go

to the back of the waiting list.

This was the idea behind LifeSharers, which Undis launched in May of

2002.

LifeSharers members agree to donate their organs when they die, but

they

give fellow members "first dibs" on them. Non-members can have a

member's

organs if no member who is a suitable match for them wants them.

Anyone

can join at www.lifesharers.org. Membership is free and open to

everyone,

without discrimination.

Directing your donation first to other members of the network

creates an

incentive for others to join. To date, members of the infant

organization

number less than 2,000. To understand the enormous potential, Undis

says

to imagine what it will be like when LifeSharers has 1,000,000

members:

"You'll be crazy not to join if you think you'll ever need an organ.

By

not joining, you'll be reducing your access to 1,000,000 hearts,

1,000,000

livers, 2,000,000 kidneys, 2,000,000 lungs, 2,000,000 corneas, and

more.

Let's face it - if only organ donors could receive organs, just

about

everybody would be a donor."

As LifeSharers grows, so does the incentive to become a registered

donor:

preferred access to an ever-larger pool of donated organs. That will

also

make the system fairer, because your chances of receiving an organ

will be

greater if you've agreed to be a donor.

But LifeSharers is not without its critics. They say it's not fair

to give

special treatment to those who have agreed to donate their organs

when

they die. However, people who don't donate their organs are the ones

who

are getting special treatment. They receive about 70 percent of all
donated organs, while registered organ donors receive only about 30
percent. LifeSharers doesn't create an inequity, it corrects one.

The critics of LifeSharers seem to miss the most important point:
LifeSharers is increasing the number of organ donors. More donors

means

fewer deaths.

Join LifeSharers and you can help solve a pressing problem that

costs

thousands of lives every year. The next life you save may be your

own.

# # #

(Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public

Policy, a

research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich.,

and a

member of the advisory board of LifeSharers. More information is

available

at www.mackinac.org. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is

hereby