Senators McCain, Clinton, Obama — How Would You Increase Organ Donation?


If you have been following the 2008 presidential campaign you probably know the candidate’s positions on most issues.  But, where are they on organ donation?  To the best of my knowledge, none of them has been asked the tough questions around that topic.


Join me in this effort to get some answers.  Today I am sending the following letter to the three major presidential candidates.  I urge you to send one too.  You may use mine if it fits your situation.  Email addresses and web sites for the three candidates are:


Senator John McCain


Senator Hillary Clinton




            Senator Barack Obama




Dear Senator:


In August of 2007, I received a heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida.  I was one of the few.  On the national list of 100,000 people, fewer than 3,000 will get transplants this year and about 7,000 people will die because of a lack of donors.  It has been estabished that one organ and tissue donor can affect the lives of up to 60 people.  Organ donation is an immediate life and death issue that has not been addressed in this campaign.  People are dying, so please answer the following questions.  If you cannot answer them, or choose not to do so, please do not send me a form letter.   

  1. Why haven’t you addressed this issue?
  2. Specifically, what would you do to increase organ donation in this country?
  3. Do you support the concept of presumed consent as practiced in many European countries?  Why?  Why not?
  4. Many people who are qualified for an organ transplant can’t even get on the list because they can’t afford the operation and the aftercare.  What would you do to make sure that anyone who needs a transplant could pay for it?
  5. Will you support and promote geater funding for research into artificial organs?

Since 1995, over 100,000 people have died waiting for organs.  The national organ donation effort run by UNOS is honorable but lacking. Each year the gap between donors and recipients widens.  Please use your good office and your election year visibility to address this most important issue.

CC: NBC NEWS, CBS NEWS, ABC NEWS, FOX NEWS, CNN, MSNBC,(Morning Joe, Chris Mathews), The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Time Magazine, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report


To readers:  Because of the minute-by-minute coverage of the campaign, we have a unique opportunity to influence millions to become organ donors.  Please don’t just read this blog and then sign off.  Send a letter to the Senators and a copy of this blog to all of your friends. 


I also intend to begin a petition that will be sent to the candidates urging them to make increased organ donation a major priority whether elected President or not.  If you like the idea let me know by writing to  If enough people respond I will move forward with a formal petition that you can sign.  



About Bob Aronson

Bob Aronson is a former journalist, a Minnesota Governor's Press Secretary and talk show host. For nearly a quarter of a century, he led the Aronson Partnership, a Minnesota-based communications consultancy that prepared corporate and government executives for crisis situations, regulatory testimony, media interviews and Presentations. Among his clients were all three U.S. Mayo Clinic locations, 3M, general Mills, CH2M Hill, the U.S. Department of Energy and scores more. In 2007 bob had a heart transplant after suffering from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy for 12 years. Shortly after he got his new heart he founded the now 4,300 member Facebook support group, Organ Transplant Initiative. At the same time, he established the Bob's Newheart blog where he has posted nearly 300 columns on organ donation, transplantation and other health related issues. The Viewpoint blog was started in late 2016 and bears the name of the Radio Talk show Bob did from 1966 until 1974, when he resigned to become Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich first Press secretary. Bob and his artist wife Robin, live in Jacksonville, Florida with their two dogs, Reilly and Ziggy. Bob is also a woodworker and makes all of the furnishings for Robin's art festival booth. He also makes one of a kind jewelry or "memories" boxes that he donates to select transplant patients, caregivers, donor families and others who have somehow contributed to making life easier for the ill, the elderly and the less fortunate. Bob is in the final stages of editing two full-length novels that will be available on Kindle when ready for release sometime in early 2017. One is a sci fi novel about an amazing discovery near Roswell, New Mexico and you will be surprised to find it has nothing to do with the Roswell story everyone knows. It features a woman scientist who investigates impact craters for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Dr. Rita Sylvester and her female student intern. The other book is a political thriller that introduces a new hero to the genre, Fargo Dennison.

Posted on April 29, 2008, in Politics of organ donation. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. You wanted details on my plan:
    Monday, May 26, 2008
    How to Solve the Organ Shortage for America
    Suggested Changes to The Federal Organ Transplant Law

    To Provide a Financial Incentive For Those Who Have Decided to Make
    Their Organs Available for the Benefit of Mankind


    The Federal Organ Transplant law needs to be changed.

    The Federal Organ Transplant Law enacted in 1984 provides that only donated organs may be used. The following plan to increase the supply of organs for transplant was developed in subsequent years by David F. Diamond of Memphis, Tennessee.
    The shortage of organs is taking the lives of almost 7,000 people unnecessarily each year. Donation is good. It is the highest altruistic step that a person can contemplate. However, for a number of reasons, many people are not willing to donate. The solution is to provide a regulated system allowing the organs of cadavers to be sold as follows:

    A. A contract can provide that when a person has decided, for whatever reasons, not to donate organs, he or she (hereafter: the provider) can commit to a plan to have the organs sold if and when the provider is brain dead. This contract will also be signed by the next of kin, spouse or nearest living relative so that that party understands the purpose of the contract and agrees that they will not oppose its implementation when the provider dies. A provider’s option to cancel the contract at any time prior to the provider’s death will be included in the contract. The use of this contract will allow the provider to leave an estate to his heirs or a designated charity. A provider, with few or no assets, might otherwise have none to leave when he or she passed.

    B. The sale of organs can be conducted by a broker, attorney or individual (hereafter: an agent) designated by the provider. A licensing procedure would establish that the agent would be certified as fiscally responsible and having financial integrity. Upon determination of brain death, the agent selected by the provider, using email, fax or phones, would immediately advise interested buyers of an organ’s availability and condition, etc. Time would be of the essence, of course. Appropriate compensation to the agent, such as a commission for services provided, would be set forth in the contract. Buyers whose bids were accepted would send payment by wire transfer, cashier’s check or other means approved in the law.

    C. The party designated by the provider must maintain a public record (like a broadcaster’s log which is available for public viewing) specifying the individual who gets the organs, how much is being paid and the identification of the provider. The purpose of this transparency is to eliminate the need for a black market, and to stimulate public awareness. If there is a public record, as soon as organ sales begin, the news media will undoubtedly write about it pointing out how much money was involved in the transactions and stressing how much money goes to the heirs. This will persuade a lot of additional people to agree to such a contract, thus increasing supply exponentially. Through the action of the law of supply and demand, the increased supply will cause prices to decrease to a level most people will consider reasonable. Unless you allow prices to be set by the market process you put a limit on the number of organs that might become available. Any fixed price, set by government or a special agency, would diminish the supply which would defeat the goal of making the most organs available. That would cause some individuals to decide not to participate. But if they knew that the organs they might provide are going to bring whatever the market process allows, they’ll have every incentive to take part.

    D. The organs would have to be sold only for transplant to U. S. citizens in order to avoid foreigners from bidding up the price and reducing the supply to Americans. Of course, if other countries should adopt model legislation such as ours then we could reciprocate and become partners with them since their organ supply could be shared with ours.

    E. The poor will not be discriminated against. They will have access to organs because the law will provide that, just as in Medicare or Medicaid presently, the government will pay for any medical procedure or supplies that the patient needs, upon a doctor’s certification that it is medically necessary. The government would buy organs on the market for those with Medicare or Medicaid unless donated organs were available. The same principle will apply for those with health insurance. And the wealthy, who may choose to be self insured, would be free to arrange for organs in the same market. Of course, people would still be free to donate organs. And participation by providers in the futures contracts would be entirely voluntary.

    F. Presently those uninsured or poor, not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, have to raise tens of thousands of dollars before hospitals or transplant surgeons will help them. The added cost of an organ can also be raised in the same way, or the law can require our government to cover that cost, since it will be less costly over time than dealing with whatever the patient’s medical expenses would be otherwise.

    G. The plan will require providers to have their medical records maintained by their doctors beginning at least as soon as a futures contract is signed. It would be made available immediately to any parties potentially buying an organ from that cadaver. The purpose, and the result, would be to assure a better, safer organ supply. This plan does not contemplate any sale of kidneys or parts of livers from a living person. There are risks in having such surgery and for that reason and others, we set that aside and take no position on that question. Sometimes, under current law, it is the right thing to do, depending on the circumstances. But in point of fact, the need for such organs will be adequately supplied with adoption of my plan.


    The proposal I’m offering will be, of course, subject to improvement and modification by the federal legislature. Meanwhile, I welcome and will entertain seriously any changes so long as they do no damage to this essential requirement: We have to let the law of supply and demand work in order to maximize the number of organs that will be made available.


  2. just came across your blog doing a research project for Government class, I’m doing Organ Donation, specfically paying organ donors. From what I understand currently surgery is covered by the receipents family/insurance and a $5,000/year tax break is given to offset additional medical costs by donors. Paying organ donors is illegal directly, but do you feel compensation for lost wages from work, or additional medical problems would help convince people to become donors?


  3. God bless Diamond for his concerns about organ donation. I’d need to know more about his approach but he is no longer a candidate for President. He does support John McCain so perhaps he can get McCain to answer my letter. By the way, I wonder if the three canidates are organ donors? That’s another question we should be asking.


  4. Check out David F. Diamond for President:


  5. UPDATE –upon sending the emails to the candidates I got an immediate, albeit automatic response from Obama and Clinton. Both said they were too busy to respond but would I contribute to their campagins. John McCain did not answer at all.


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