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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Human Organ Demand
January 2000

Q. In view of the rising demands for human organs, instead of an opt in system, do you feel that an opt out system be more beneficial? Is there a web page that could help with this?

A. Indeed an opt out system would provide more organs for donation. However, in this country that would present an ethical dilemma because most people who would rather opt out may not fill out the paperwork. For example, most people over 60 do not have a living will or a durable power of attorney. So we know that even people at high risk of needing such a document do not take advantage of it. To have an opt out program would mean that many people who would rather not donate an organ would end up donating one because they hadn't gotten around to signing the form to opt out.

This is not to say that I am not in favor of finding ways to increase organ donations. There's an incredible need for additional organ donors, and whatever needs to be done (whether that be education or increased incentives) would be beneficial. You can learn more about organ donations and public and legislative affairs related to organ donations at the organ donor Web site: www.organdonor.gov

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