U.S. should adopt automatic opt-in organ donation

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Jonathan Krantz, Staff Writer

There is no rule on what should be done with your body after you die. Some people choose to be buried, some choose to be cremated and some choose to donate their organs. Most of the world, including the U.S., takes part in what is referred to as an “opt-in” program, where people are presumed not to be a donor unless they indicate otherwise. These programs are proven to be ineffective, and only 15 percent of those in opt-in countries choose to donate any of their organs after death, which is an abysmal rate.

In the U.S., a shortage of organ donors has led to just over 20 people on average dying every day while waiting to receive desperately needed organs. American lawmakers have been unable to find a viable means of increasing the supply of donations, largely blaming the importance of religious freedoms.

The U.S. needs to adopt what many European countries, including the U.K., have adopted: programs in which citizens must choose to “opt out” of organ donation and otherwise are presumed to be donors. These programs drastically increase the rate of enlistment, showing an increase to a 90 percent donor rate from the aforementioned 15 percent in opt-in countries.

Countries that shift to an opt-out program also change the culture of organ donations, often transforming the public view of donations after death from one of ultimate altruism to a blasé, inconsequential outlook. Thus, instead of imposing by asking for organs, a doctor asks if there is any reason for not making a donation.

Opt-out programs work because they take advantage of a common human trait: people are inherently lazy. People have been shown to remain organ donors in opt-out countries because not being a donor is seen as a direct action as opposed to a neutral action. People are therefore more likely to do nothing as opposed to something in any given direction.

This increase in viable organs could help states like Louisiana – a state currently ranked first in kidney failure deaths, second in sepsis deaths and fifth in heart disease deaths – fight the ever-increasing demand for transplants. Additionally, college campuses will be more affected by this legislation because, according to a 2012 study on the prevalence of organ donation, 75 percent of college students are in favor of organ donations while only two percent actually become donors themselves.

Regardless of one’s stance on organ donation, some form of donation reform should be done because the capability of saving lives far outweighs the possible work for those who do not wish to participate. Some legislation should be passed to ensure the consent of families and those who wish to opt out for any reason, religious or otherwise.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Jonathan is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]