(HealthDay News) — Many state policies meant to increase organ donations and transplant rates have had almost no impact, according to new research published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The shortage of organs available for transplant is a major public health problem in the United States, according to study author Erika Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and her colleagues. Between 1988 and 2010, the number of states with at least 1 of 6 major measures designed to boost the organ supply increased from 7 to 50, the team reported.
But their review of national data revealed that 5 of these approaches have not increased donation rates or numbers of transplants. These policies include first-person consent laws, donor registries, public education, paid leave, and tax incentives.
In the study, only revenue policies — where people can contribute to a state fund to promote organ donation — have made a difference. This type of measure was associated with a 5.3% increase in the number of transplants, which works out to an average of 15 additional transplants per state a year. Revenue policies were also associated with a 4.9% increase in the number of deceased donors per capita and an 8.0% increase in the number of transplants of organs from deceased donors. This works out to an additional 6.5 deceased donors and 8 transplants from deceased donors per state a year, the researchers found.
Sally Satel, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues said they believe it’s time for “disruptive innovation” in an editorial that accompanied the study. “By this concept, we mean compensating donors, not simply seeking to soften the financial ramification of donation. It is time to test incentives, to reward people who are willing to save the life of a stranger through donation,” they suggested.