The Transplantation Miracle
Confronts a Lack of Organs
Transplantation of hearts, kidneys, livers and lungs is a lifesaving procedure, a success story of modern medicine. And yet the miracle is often stymied by the gruesome reality that too few human organs are available to help everybody in need.
An estimated 3,000 people on waiting lists for organs die each year. But that probably understates the case, since if more organs were available, more people would be eligible for transplants.
This donor shortage is despite considerable support, (at least in the polls) for organ donation. The problem is that most people don't get around to signing donor cards, and many physicians can't bear to ask next-of-kin to donate organs immediately after death, which is when they must be "harvested."
Still, the rate of transplantation is gradually rising: