Chances of Getting a Kidney Are Now Less Than 20%, It's Time to Legalize Donor Compensation

National organ transplant data through the end of 2011 are now available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the situation for those unfortunate patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant has never been more grim.  Here are the depressing facts:

1. There were only 16,812 kidney transplant operations performed in 2011, which was fewer than the 16,899 transplants in 2010 and the 16,829 in 2009, and was even below the 17,094 operations performed in 2006.

2. While the number of kidney transplant operations has remained relatively flat since 2005, the number of registered patients on the waiting list continues to increase.  From about 65,000 registered patients in 2005, the waiting list for a kidney transplant has increased by 42% and by more than 27,000 patients to the current level of more than 92,000.

3. In 1988, there were fewer than two patients on the waiting list for a kidney for every transplant operation, and there are now 5.5 patients per operation.  In other words, patients on the waiting list in the late 1980s had more than a 50% chance of receiving a kidney, compared to patients today who have less than a one-in-five chance of receiving a kidney, and those chances keep diminishing every year.  

4. Based on data from the last few years, there will be about 5,000 registered candidates on the list who will die this year while waiting for a kidney, and another 2,000 who will be removed from the list because they are considered to be too sick to survive a kidney transplant operation.  
Bottom Line: The situation for those with renal failure waiting desperately to receive a kidney continues to worsen every year under the current policy that prohibits donor compensation.  The only realistic, long-term and truly compassionate solution to address America's worsening kidney shortage is to legalize some form of donor compensation.  

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