UC Irvine School of Law founding dean and nationally known constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, UCI Chancellor's Professor of law Michele Goodwin and 300 health and transplant professionals, religious leaders, legal scholars and ethicists are calling on President Barack Obama to take action on "easing a critical and worsening shortage of transplantable organs that results in thousands of American deaths every year."
The leaders in their respective fields have issued an unprecedented open letter that calls on Obama and senior policy makers to initiate fact-based studies of options--including offering benefits to donors--aimed at "finding solutions to the organ shortage crisis."
Read the letter here: www.ustransplantopenletter.org.
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The group points out:
* There are more than 100,000 names on the official kidney transplant waiting list with another 35,000 being added each year, while only 17,000 transplants are performed annually. These figures do not account for over 500,000 patients on dialysis.
* Each year, the U.S. government spends billions on this highly inefficient system.
* According to U.S. data, those disproportionately hurt the most by the nation's transplant system are African American.
* Our nation's failure to address this issue has enormous ramifications and consequences domestically and abroad. In lieu of waiting five to 10 years on transplant lists some wealthier Americans have turned to black markets, receiving organs from executed prisoners in China or buying organs from destitute individuals in Pakistan, India, Brazil and other parts of the world. These broader social costs along with American suffering must be addressed.
Goodwin is an expert when it comes to the last point, having authored Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts.