Organ Transplants

Can the Number of Donors be Increased?


Since the first successful transplant of a human organ 40 years ago, the demand for organs has greatly exceeded the supply. About 40,000 Americans are awaiting organ donations, but fewer than half will get them. Medical experts have had limited success in closing the gap in voluntary organ donations, while proposals to offer payments to donors or use animal organs have been criticized on ethical grounds. The use of fetal tissue to treat chronic disorders affecting the elderly, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, also has proved contentious. For some would-be organ recipients, however, the biggest obstacle is money. Operations can cost $200,000 or more, and expensive drugs must be used throughout the patient's lifetime to prevent rejection of the new organ.

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