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It can take years to get to the top of the waiting list for a donated kidney in the U.S. So when Sally Satel found out she’d need a kidney transplant, she wondered why she couldn’t just buy one. We’ll hear from a behavioral economist and a bioethicist who shed light on the ban on organ sales and whether it’s possible to create an ethical compensation program for organs.

Show notes:
In addition to Sally Satel, this episode features interviews with: 

Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopolous Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Mario Macis, Professor of Economic, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

This episode references the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), passed in 1984. This act established the national Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network (OPTN), which is operated by an outside contractor, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

The OPTN has its own ethics committee that has written guiding principles that influence how organs are allocated in the US. You can read this guidance here

To learn more about the ethics issues raised in this episode, visit the Berman Institute’s episode guide

The Greenwall Foundation seeks to make bioethics integral to decisions in health care, policy, and research. Learn more at

The Host

Lauren Arora Hutchinson, PhD, MPH

Lauren Arora Hutchinson, host of playing god?, joined the Berman Institute in June 2022 as the inaugural director of the Dracopoulos-Bloomberg iDeas Lab. She was previously a BBC journalist, award-winning audio storyteller,…