Friday, May 11, 2012

Wouldn't a market be much simpler?

In the spring of 2011, Rick Ruzzamenti of Riverside California decided to donate his kidney to a orgnization set up to match donors and recipients. His selfless act set off a domino chain of 60 operations involving 17 hospitals in 11 different states. Donors, unable to help their loved ones because of incompatible blood types or antibodies, instead donated kidneys to those whose loved ones donated to others, and so on, until the chain ended six months later in Chicago, Illinois.

The good news is that thirty people received new kidneys, and escaped the "living hell" of dialysis. The bad news is that this complex barter system is the only legal way for Americans to get kidneys. It is so inefficient that only 17,000 of the 90,000 people on waiting lists received kidneys last year.

To understand how complex and cumbersome this process is, imagine trying to do the same things with an apartment . If you wanted to move from Detroit to Nashville, you would either have to find someone who was moving in the opposite direction or, failing that, you could find a second person moving from Nashville to Los Angeles, and a third from Los Angeles to Detroit.  Then you could swap the first apartment for the second, the second for the third, and the third for the first.

Why not simply allow people to buy and sell kidneys?

1 comment:

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