Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Transplant rates

The SMH reports today that the Sharelife group has enlisted former GG Michael Jeffrey in a campaign to lift transplant rates. The goal is evidently "80-90 transplants per million population."

We have to ask though if the goal is achievable. Discussion mostly focuses on the "conversion rate" of usable organs to actual donations - driven by the donation registration and family knowledge rates. These are low but don't explain the whole variance.

To get useful transplant organs you need usually younger people to die, and to die by violence or accident not disease.

Success in reducing the road toll has a direct effect on available transplant organs, gun control and the reported decline in gun shot death does the same. Even the incredibly good record on industrial safety has this effect.

I've recently written a paper on the weakness of "ordinal goals" in economics - that paper was based on the conflict between coming first in GDP per capita and being concerned about global equality and the "gains from trade".

The kind of goal here is an ordinal goal - to score the same rate as someone else. As noted that "rate" is achievable through actions that lift the deeath rate through accident and violence - not really a good objective.

Note: at which point we say roll on stem-cell research so we can just grow the organs we need (wink to VicN).

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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