L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 48, June 15, 1999
by Casey J. Lartigue Jr.
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
(This article originally appeared at
and is reprinted here with permission -- Ed.)
First, the good news. More than 20,000 people had organ transplants
last year. Now, the bad news. Twice as many, more than 44,000 people,
were still on the waiting list when 1998 ended. And the really tragic
news: more than 4,300 people, an average of 12 per day, died while
waiting for an organ transplant.
Could there be a better means than altruism for organ donation? A
recent proposal from Pennsylvania plans to pay the relatives of organ
donors $300 toward funeral expenses. Such a plan acknowledges,
finally, that altruism isn't enough.
Hearing about that plan brought back memories of a college friend who
was from Pennsylvania. Terri Mullin, a self-described "country girl
from Pennsylvania," was a fantastic reporter at my college newspaper.
But as good as she was, she never had a legitimate shot at an
executive position on the paper. She had cystic fibrosis. The senior
editors were worried because she was often in bad health, missing
days at a time.
Because she acted as if she didn't have the disease, I wasn't
surprised when she asked me if I could teach her how to play
softball. Softball was the sport that everyone on the paper could
play. Everyone, that is, except for Terri.
I really regretted that Terri and I never found a time for softball.
The following autumn, she checked into the hospital for an extended
Worried that she might be dying, several of us made the trip to the
hospital to see her. Between coughs, she assured us that she would be
back, soon. She later told me that she was happy to see me because I
enjoyed her rants about animal rights groups who opposed medical
testing on animals. She blamed those groups for the deaths of many of
the "invisible victims" of diseases. A former poster child for cystic
fibrosis, Terri had memorized the names of diseases that had been
cured as a result of animal testing.
There she was, sick in the hospital, and she wanted to ... play
softball! She asked me if I would still teach her how to play. I
reluctantly agreed to do so after she got healthy.
She did return a few weeks later, upset because she knew that her
long stay in the hospital had ruined her chances for a top spot on
the paper. She was even more upset because I was hesitant to play
softball with her.
Spring came and it was softball season. Terri seemed to be much
healthier. One day, she just showed up at one of the games, without
even a day of practice. There she was, trying to figure out how to
hold the bat.
Before the game started, she came to me, nervous: "Coach, quick,
teach me how to play." She took a couple of weak practice swings
behind the batting cage. Suddenly, she was up next. She was frantic.
"What should I do?"
She was livid. "That's it? Swing? That's what you call coaching?"
She walked up to the plate. The pitcher tossed the world's slowest
pitch right down the middle. Terri did swing; late, badly. Strike
one. Another pitch, a swing, and contact! If it had been a movie, she
would have hit a home run or a triple. Instead, she hit a weak
dribbler that dropped right in front of home plate.
I had forgotten to teach her one other thing:
Glaring at me and holding the bat the whole way, she lumbered down to
first base. She was halfway there when the ball arrived.
She played in several other games, even getting a "hit" in an
intrasquad game. She had managed to actually hit the ball past the
pitcher and directly to me at shortstop. Although I could have outrun
her to first base, I ended up tossing the ball at least 10 yards over
the first baseman's head. I will never forget the big grin on Terri's
face later as she awkwardly leaned off second, taunting me for making
the error: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, play shortstop."
That is my best memory of my three years of working with her. About
two years later, I happened to see her picture as I was thumbing
through the Boston Globe. It was in the obituary section. Shortly
after she had started working at the Boston Globe, she had taken a
leave of absence. She had died in England, apparently waiting for a
transplant that never came. I can't help thinking that Terri might be
alive today if we didn't rely solely on voluntary organ donations.
There are numerous appeals to get more people to sign up to become
organ donors. Sporting events are held to raise donor awareness.
Celebrities, including Michael Jordan, have acted as spokespeople for
the cause. The U.S. Post Office has issued an "organ donation" stamp
to raise awareness. But the reality is that during Donor Awareness
Week, observed in late April, at least 80 people will die while
waiting for an organ. On National Donor Day, observed on February 13,
another dozen people will die while waiting. Those efforts will
continue to fail as long as we continue to rely on altruism as the
sole motivation for organ donations.
The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 explicitly prohibits the
purchase or sale of internal organs. It is time to repeal that law.
The free market isn't a utopia: The rich may still get the "best"
organs, but an increased supply of organs would benefit everyone.
Casey J. Lartigue, Jr. is a staff writer at the Cato Institute.
From the "Eye Wash Rosie Ever Day" school of philosophy:
ABC's Good Morning America "chat" on White House & "gun violence"
Now who can argue with that?
"Donna ... at 7:51am ET:
"Every parent,teacher, and the county need to start talking with
children on guns in this world. I am a mother of three great
children, we talk to are every day about guns. We don't owe one
but with having children in the home is not a smart move. Let get
guns ban in this county." [sic, sic, sic]
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