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Forbes Spotlights Goodwin’s Views on Organ Shortage

The "On My Mind" section of the October 15 issue of Forbes presents the thoughts of Michele Goodwin, Everett Fraser Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and currently a visiting professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. In her essay "The Organ Donor Taboo," she discusses the "mismatch between demand and supply" of transplantable organs, noting that the problem is getting worse.

The full article is available online on the Forbes website (requires login).

Professor Goodwin suggests a method to alleviate the wait for some of the 97,191 patients now on the list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing: financial incentives for organ donation. For example, she explains, Wisconsin allows live donors to take income tax deductions for related transportation and medical expenses, and Pennsylvania is considering state-paid burial benefits for relatives donating a deceased family member’s organs.

"The federal government should let states write their own laws on organ donor compensation," she says in her essay. This shift of power would affect neither altruistic donations nor priority in selecting organ recipients, but it could increase the supply of donors, according to Goodwin.

Professor Goodwin began her teaching career in 2001 at DePaul University College of Law, where she directed the Health Law Institute and founded the Center for the Study of Race & Bioethics. DePaul's president selected as one of the two top publications of 2006 Professor Goodwin's Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts, published by Cambridge University Press.

In a review of Black Markets, Former Chief Justice of Illinois' Supreme Court Benjamin Miller says that Professor Goodwin's wide-ranging research into the many legal and ethical dilemmas surrounding organ donation "places these issues in their historical, legal, and cultural contexts."

Professor Goodwin has long focused scholarly explorations on causes of organ shortages, remedial policy changes, and legal norms in transactions involving the human body. She continues her research on property, ownership, and identity in the human body and her work on a forthcoming book, Baby Markets.

portrait of Prof. Goodwin