As auto and technology industries rush to produce the first autonomous vehicle to hit the market, good news is self-driving cars are sure to decrease the number of car accidents, resulting in fatalities, significantly. The bad new? This may cause less organs available for hospital patients in dire need of transplants.
Sounds morbid to say the least, but it is certainly an issue that needs to be looked at more closely.
According to a recent Slate.com report, hospitals across the United States are struggling when it comes to supply shortages with organs. Approximately 6,500 people within America pass away annually waiting for an organ, amongst a transplant waiting list that has almost doubled in the previous 18 years to 123,000 from 65,000. There is undoubtedly a need for organ transplants in place, with about one in five transplants currently coming from automotive accidents. When these car crashes decrease, the number of healthy organs used for transplants right now will inevitably decline as well. A majority of data estimates that self-driving cars will help decrease deaths around vehicle accidents by more than half of the 35,000 deaths that occur annually right now.
So, this is one of those incidents that have a good-bad effect. Good, because less car accidents mean more lives saved; bad, though, because governments at a federal level need to now think of a ‘Plan B’ when it comes to ensuring the supply of organs are to par when transplants are needed, in order to keep another sector within the population healthy and thriving.
MSN reported that Slate.com offers a suggestion where legislation could be passed to legalize the sale of organs, as this act as been banned as of 1984. Something could mirror the way eggs, blood, bone marrow and sperm are donated right now, but for organs in need like kidneys and liver.
Another option that has been suggested is that the Department of Transportation develop automatic enrollment for organ donations, where people would need to opt out of the program, versus the way it is done now, where people have to ensure they are opted in. Israel has also experienced success around their issue of organ transplant donors by letting people on waiting lists move up if a member of the family donates for a transplant, which is not for the procedure they are looking at.
While the idea is a terrible thought, organ supply and where that supply stems from, is certainly an issue that needs to be address, before the boom of self-driving cars really hits the roads and our hospitals are left with zero options to look at.