Arthur Matas, the director of renal transplant at the University of Minnesota, tells Big Think that existing proposals to reform the transplant system won't solve the massive shortage. And while there may be promising scientific solutions in the future, like cloning fully functioning organs from samples of living tissue, they are simply "not ready for prime time today." The same goes with using pig organs for human transplants (xenotransplanting). These options, he says, are "decades away." Meanwhile, the median waiting time for a kidney was 1,100 days (for those who registered in 2003-2004). "The longer someone is on dialysis before a transplant, the worse the transplant results," says Matas.
Matas wants the government to compensate healthy people who choose to give up a kidney. “I’m not talking about an unregulated market,” says Matas. Rather, the government would remunerate a donor and then allocate the kidney to the person at the top of the waiting list. Matas envisages the remuneration to be more than cash or tax credits. To minimize the risks associated with giving up a kidney, the donor would receive long-term health care and one year of life insurance.
4,540 Americans died waiting for a kidney transplant in 2008. So it’s no wonder a global black market for kidneys is thriving. Last year, a FBI corruption sting in New Jersey caught a man attempting to sell a kidney for $160,000—the first documented case of organ trafficking in the U.S.
— The United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit, scientific and educational organization that administers the nation's only Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.