Stumbling toward equity: The role of government in kidney transplantation

Academic Article


  • In Mortal Peril, Professor Epstein is critical of the current, regulated system for organ donation and suggests that a market for organ tissue would better meet the needs of patients. In this response to Professor Epstein, Professor Laura Dooley and Dr. Robert Gaston pair their skills to attack Professor Epstein's analysis. As they have done on several other occasions, Professors Dooley and Gaston argue that the kidney donation and transplantation arena is fraught with racial inequity, and that Professor Epstein's proposal for a market in kidneys will exacerbate this inequity. The authors maintain that to prevent the poor from being excluded from transplants, the government plays a critical (if imperfect) role in the allocation of these scarce resources. Furthermore, government intervention is acceptable to correct past discrimination because there is scientific evidence that the disproportionate incidence of kidney failure in African Americans is related to the evolutionary pressures of slave trading and slavery. Professors Dooley and Gaston also defend their previous efforts to change the government system of allocation and characterize the government's willingness to adopt their recommendations as an appropriate response to scientific research rather than a governmental susceptibility to lobbying from special interest groups. Finally, the authors criticize Professor Epstein's argument that dialysis is a viable alternative to transplantation because there are significant differences in "quality of life, morbidity and survival." Professors Dooley and Gaston conclude that government intervention is necessary for maintaining the equity in kidney transplantation that a market system would not.
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  • Dooley LG; Gaston RS
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  • 703
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  • 1