Angela Sroufe visits the grave of her daughter, Amie Woodward, in Wabash, Ind., this summer. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

The excellent Dec. 25 front-page article “Lives lost, organs wasted” posited that one solution to the United States’ chronic shortage of viable kidneys is to accept substandard kidneys for transplant but ignored a much more tractable solution: having government compensate living kidney donors.

Research suggests that paying $50,000 to a donor would not only provide a healthy, viable kidney for everyone who needs one but would also save the government more than $100 billion over the next decade by reducing the number of people on dialysis, most of the cost of which is borne by Medicare.

While some aver that doing such a thing would be inherently exploitative of the poor and minorities, it’s worth noting that under the current system, these groups fare quite poorly, given the increased propensity of African Americans and Hispanics to have kidney disease, and thousands of people die each year waiting in vain for an organ to be made available. The wealthy and the white tend to fare much better, which is one reason we have made only token attempts to reform a broken system thus far.

Ike Brannon, Washington

The writer is a senior fellow with the
Jack Kemp Foundation and co-founder of the
Organ Reform Group and Network.