America’s kidney transplant system is in a state of permanent crisis. More than 100,000 people need new kidneys, and their ranks are growing quickly. Each year, 35,000 more are added to the list, and only 17,000 come off by receiving transplants; 4,400 drop off the list by dying and 4,000 more exit because they have become too sick to transplant.
What is our country doing about this tragedy? Not enough. Donation rates have stagnated and in some ways, declined. In 2001, 6,000 Americans became living donors. Last year, it was only 5,600. In between, the waiting list doubled. We need new solutions.
Recently, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Moosic resident who represents Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, introduced the Organ Donor Clarification Act to Congress. This act would allow pilots of noncash incentives for organ donation, like tax credits and charitable donations. These pilots would be highly regulated and carefully supervised by medical ethics boards.
There are not enough champions for patients with kidney failure in Congress. Cartwright, also a sponsor of the Living Donor Protection Act, is among the most passionate. As a kidney donor who knows that some day my recipient, John, will likely need another transplant, the congressman has my deepest appreciation. Continue reading
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