A free-market solution to the organ shortage in the United States:
LifeSharers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit network of organ donors.
is free and open to all at http://www.lifesharers.com. Members
donate their organs when they die. Further, they direct that their
be offered first to fellow members.
Giving organs first to organ donors accomplishes two things. First,
makes the organ allocation system fairer. Currently, about 70% of
organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't
to donate their own organs when they die. Second, it creates a
incentive for non-donors to register as donors. Over 6,000
every year waiting for organ transplants.
I hope you will join LifeSharers. It's free, and it could save your
Below is an article about LifeSharers written by Larry Reed,
the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
David J. Undis
Solving the Organ Donation Crisis Through Incentives
Monday, December 01, 2003
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
them. People solving problems without the intrusion of politics is a
feature of American life we must seek to encourage, because it
solves problems best, and preserves our liberties and pocketbooks at
same time. A great and recent example is a new private group called
The problem LifeSharers seeks to ameliorate is the nationwide
human body organs. Federal law and many people's sensibilities
genuine market in human organs, but the effect of those inhibitions
claim about 17 Americans every day. That's how many die waiting for
heart, kidney, lung or other body organ - a daily toll that adds up
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
Today's donation system relies on little more than altruism: Leave
organs for others because it's a good thing to do. That may be an
admirable motive, but it has nonetheless yielded an intractable
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
deceased by refusing consent.
The altruistic approach has left us in a crisis because it fights
nature. We've been asking people to think about something that is
unpleasant, and to commit to doing something that is very scary,
giving them anything in return except a good feeling. Clearly, the
of people generous enough to make that trade isn't nearly enough to
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
old-fashioned incentive could be the cure for the organ crisis. The
prohibits monetary payment for organs, so he came up with another
motivator: putting organ donors at the front of the transplant
list. By doing so, he figured we could give everybody a strong
to sign a donor card because anybody who doesn't sign one will have
to the back of the waiting list.
This was the idea behind LifeSharers, which Undis launched in May of
LifeSharers members agree to donate their organs when they die, but
give fellow members "first dibs" on them. Non-members can have a
organs if no member who is a suitable match for them wants them.
can join at www.lifesharers.org. Membership is free and open to
Directing your donation first to other members of the network
incentive for others to join. To date, members of the infant
number less than 2,000. To understand the enormous potential, Undis
to imagine what it will be like when LifeSharers has 1,000,000
"You'll be crazy not to join if you think you'll ever need an organ.
not joining, you'll be reducing your access to 1,000,000 hearts,
livers, 2,000,000 kidneys, 2,000,000 lungs, 2,000,000 corneas, and
Let's face it - if only organ donors could receive organs, just
everybody would be a donor."
As LifeSharers grows, so does the incentive to become a registered
preferred access to an ever-larger pool of donated organs. That will
make the system fairer, because your chances of receiving an organ
greater if you've agreed to be a donor.
But LifeSharers is not without its critics. They say it's not fair
special treatment to those who have agreed to donate their organs
they die. However, people who don't donate their organs are the ones
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
Join LifeSharers and you can help solve a pressing problem that
thousands of lives every year. The next life you save may be your
# # #
(Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public
research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich.,
member of the advisory board of LifeSharers. More information is
at www.mackinac.org. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is