A special thank you to Alice Temnick for creating this Extra relating to this EconTalk episode.


Do you or have you known someone who has donated, is in need of, or has received a transplanted organ? If so, how has that association shaped your thinking about organ donations and the illegality of organ markets?

1. Sally Satel presents the multiple costs (and benefits) donors face, from the pre-surgery preparation work, the recovery, the psychological effect of donating and family influences. Are there other costs that might influence potential donors?

2. With a waiting list of 80,000 and 12 people dying daily as they wait for a kidney, directed donations from living donors are a patient’s best hope. Satel indicates that a thriving black market exists globally. Who is helped or harmed by this?

3. Sally Satel discusses the opposing argument to a classic free market in kidneys and the need for paternalistic compensation proposals such as delayed payments, tax credits, loan forgiveness and more. What other payment plans might “dampen the magnitude of the incentive” for those seeking immediate compensation? Which ideas do you believe might best appease the opposition to a market for kidneys?

4. Russ acknowledged the potential of falling charitable donations as a possible consequence of a market for kidneys. How likely is this or the further concern stated by the National Kidney Foundation that it could crowd out altruistic giving in general? Would direct donations be effected? How?

5. Consider the term commodification. If this term suggests an immoral connotation of paying money for a body part, do Satel’s four points of her plan address that? (ensuring that the donor has the capacity to make the decision, gives their informed consent, has their health protected, and is amply rewarded)