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Reforming the United States Organ Donation System: A Plan to Save Eighteen American Lives a Day

Lori Nunemaker


Currently over 105,000 people are on the United States waiting list hoping to receive a life saving organ donation. Between January and November of 2009 approximately 26,000 people received organ transplants. This gap continues to increase annually, leading to many thousands of potentially unnecessary deaths each year. The United States urgently needs to turn this situation around, and can learn much about how to do so from successful organ donation programs in other countries. This article is based on current literature on organ donation around the world. A clear picture of the state of the system in the United States today is given. The Unites States has struggled to change the statistics for several reasons such as a poorly designed system, lack of public awareness, and cultural beliefs and misconceptions about organ donation. Several other countries’ programs have managed to decrease their shortage. These countries include Iran, Austria, and Spain. In this article I analyze the donation programs in these countries, as well as that of other struggling countries who are implementing innovative solutions. This analysis leads to useful suggestions for the United States, resulting in an action plan.


: organ donation system, organ shortage, presumed consent, legalized organ payments

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