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Cohen on Compensation for Organ Donation

Dark horse presidential candidate David Diamond may have a slim-to-none chance of being elected president, but his sole platform - compensation for organ donation - makes a lot of sense, says Professor Lloyd Cohen, commenting in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Diamond, who is running with a campaign chest that currently tips the scales at $124 (which includes $100 from his mother), advocates an open, but regulated, market for organs. Cohen shares his view, having argued for compensation for organ donation for years. "If you pay people something, you'll get more of it," says Cohen, and that would benefit the more than 97,000 people currently waiting for transplants.

What'll you take for that kidney? Memphis Commercial Appeal, September 16, 2007. By Wendi C. Thomas.

Excerpt:
"Quirky man plus an unusual idea usually equals easily dismissed. I mean, paying for an organ just doesn't seem right. It should be a gift, we've been trained to believe, given selflessly by grieving families who recognize the good that can come from death.

"Diamond disagrees, even if he doesn't explain it as convincingly as does, say columnist Charles Krauthammer in an 1999 column about Pennsylvania's efforts to pay $300 in funeral expenses for someone whose organs were donated at death.

"Krauthammer wrote, 'What is wrong with rewarding people ... for a dead relative's organ?'
Diamond also has an ally in Lloyd Cohen, a law professor at George Mason University who has argued in favor of monetary compensation for organ donation for years.

"To rely on the altruistic notions of families with a dying relative is just silly, says Cohen. 'Why let it rest on charity? Even charitable people don't feel charitable all the time.'

"The simple brilliance of the idea, Cohen says, should be the focus: 'If you pay people something, you'll get more of it.'

"It's a novel idea, and that's exactly what the organ shortage issue needs - new approaches, even those that might seem controversial on first glance. Controversial ideas are often more palatable when proposed by more conventional people, but then, it's often the out-of-the-box people who have out-of-the-box ideas.

"Cohen agrees that Diamond's political chances are none, but he's complimentary all the same.

"'David Diamond, God bless him. If he brings more attention to this question, all the better.'

"And in the end - and the end will not include Diamond in office - if more of us simply inform our families of our wish to donate organs, then Diamond's campaign may not have been in vain.

"To learn more about David Diamond's donation idea, go to davidfdiamond.blogspot. com. To get information on being an organ donor and to print a card to sign, go to organdonor.gov."

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