Student’s Research to be Part of National Ethics Symposium
Truesdale Studied Implications of Incentivizing Organ Donation
March 19, 2015
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— As a result of his analysis of incentivizing organ donations, Illinois
Wesleyan economics and political science double major Daniel Truesdale ’15 (Tinley Park, Illinois) has been selected to participate
in a national ethics symposium April 9-11 at DePauw University.
“I became interested in organ donation after interning at the [conservative think
tank] American Enterprise Institute (AEI) my junior year in Washington, D.C.,” said
Truesdale, who interned at AEI through IWU’s affiliation with the Washington Semester program at American University. “At AEI I came across, When Altruism Isn't Enough (AEI Press, 2009), and was moved by the positive and normative aspects of the work. Though it focused
on living organ donation, I began to wonder if incentivizing cadaver donation could
be a middle ground for those opposed and in favor of a monetary system.”
In the fall of 2014, Truesdale conducted his senior project in economics on a potential
strategy to increase cadaver organ donations among Illinois drivers. Titled “Incentivizing
Cadaver Organ Donors,” his study focused on ways to increase the number of individuals
declaring themselves candidates for organ donations at the time that they renew their
driver’s licenses. After he administered a series of surveys and notional experiments,
Truesdale’s study concluded that a small incentive such as waiving the fee for driver
license renewalcould have a significant impact increasing the number of cadaver organs
among students at Illinois Wesleyan and Bloomington-Normal residents.
Truesdale decided to take his research a step further during his Advanced Research
Seminar class this spring semester. Exploring connections between his data-driven
research and the ethical implications of incentivizing organ donor candidates, Truesdale
wrote a proposal to participate in the 2015 Undergraduate Ethics Symposium.
“First and foremost, I hope my research brings attention to the organ shortage in
the United States and across the globe,” Truesdale said. “If we were to entice individuals
to become organ donors by use of monetary incentive, we could save lives.”
According to data reported by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), someone is added to the national transplant waiting list every ten minutes,
and approximately 21 people die each day waiting for a transplant. One organ donor
can save eight lives. According to OPTN, the gap between supply and demand continues
to widen despite advances in medicine and technology, and an increase in awareness
of organ donation and transplantation.
Truesdale has recognized the obstacles that come with incentivizing donations, including
concerns with coercion and exploitation, both of which he addresses in the project.
“There are those against this approach because they believe it undermines human dignity
and all donation should be altruistic,” he said. “I acknowledge altruism is a beautiful
feature of the human spirit, but it should not bind us from utilizing additional measures
if it can not produce a desired outcome.”
Truesdale will address these issues and more at the symposium. With the theme of “Value
and Virtual Spaces,” the symposium is shaped around a series of workshops in which
students present their best work on a subject of ethical concern. The selective honors
symposium accepts a group of 25 to 30 submissions, and participants engage in a series
of workshops and small-group seminars.