The Organ Trail

An interesting example of a bipartite market is the potential of a market for kidneys.  According to the Wall Street Journal, 95,000 Americans are on the waiting list for kidneys, and the supply of people willing to donate their kidneys is only a tiny fraction of that.  An easy wait to lower the wait time and encourage more people to donate would be to allow for a market of organs.  That way prices could be determined using the model we learned in class. The cost of the organ would need to be absorbed by insurance companies, but allowing people to be paid for the organ they have given up would create something closer to a one-to-one buyer to seller ratio and cut the wait time way down.

Currently the wait time for a kidney is 2.9 years and many of those in need die waiting for the organ.  Creating a market for organs would increase the supply of kidneys enough that many of these patients would not need to die waiting.  In addition, the cost to keep the patient on dialysis during the time they are waiting for the kidney is $80,000.  If these patients were able to get kidneys right away, even if the market set a very high price for them, the organ would still probably cost less than the wait time for a free one.


2 thoughts on “The Organ Trail”

  1. While this may be very beneficial to many people, as I was reading this I just visualized a world of pandora being opened with this. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but I pictured young, poor, and or desperate people selling organs, and that really rich people would be matched first. People may no longer choose to be an organ donor on their drivers license but instead choose to be a kidney seller. A lot would need to be worked out before something like this would take effect. Very, very interesting.

    1. Really interesting point in regards to finding a fair way to match considering bipartite graphs haven’t really been analyzed with a social justice component…not sure if that’s possible

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