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Abstract

Under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, organ suppliers-usually the famillies of critically injured accident victims-are not allowed to receive compensation in exchange for granting permission to remove the organs of their deceased relatives. This organ procurement regime is therefore driven solely by potential donors' altruism. Due to the growing nationwide shortage of transplantable organs, the altruistic system has begun to draw considerable criticism. Focussing on the transplantation of kidneys, this Article challenges the theoretical and economic underpinnings of the altruistic system by comparing it to two alternative policies: a market system that allows demand and supply to equilibrate at a positive price, and a system which transfers property rights in cadaveric organs from potential donors to recipients. Blair and Kaserman subject these alternative policies to economic and ethical scrutiny, and conclude that the market system would not only generate the largest number of transplantable kidneys, but would also provide the greatest gain in overall social welfare.

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