Thousands die while waiting for kidneys, while thousands of sound donated kidneys are thrown out. Among culprits, per the New York Times: “an outdated computer matching program, stifling government oversight, the overreliance by doctors on inconclusive tests and even federal laws against age discrimination.” One federal initiative, for example, penalizes institutions whose transplant success rate is less than stellar. What could go wrong?
…dozens of transplant specialists said the threat of government penalties had made doctors far more selective about the organs and patients they accepted, leading to more discards … [Toledo transplant surgeon Michael] Rees still bristles at the trade-off. “Which serves America better?” he asked. “A program doing 100 kidneys and 88 percent of them are working, or a program that does 60 kidneys and 59 of them are working? It’s rationing health care under the guise of quality, and it’s a tragedy that we are throwing away perfectly good organs.”
Meanwhile, Europe has had success with the practice of matching donors with recipients within the same age bracket, but a similar proposal in the U.S. “died quickly after federal officials warned that discrimination laws would prohibit the use of age to determine outright who gets a transplant.”