What If You Need a New Kidney?

Al Roth is a professor of economics at Stanford, and he was co-winner (with Lloyd Shapley) of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2012.  An engineer by training, he became an expert on designing markets because in certain situations, money alone can’t solve some problems.  For example, Stanford University doesn’t use supply and demand to make its admissions decisions.

But the most dramatic example is organ donation.  Since it’s illegal to sell organs, Roth developed an organ-donor algorithm that has led to a huge increase in kidney donations through sharing networks.  The United Network For Organ Sharing credits his algorithm with increasing kidney-paired donations from two in 2000 to about 600 a year now.

If you would like to know more about Roth’s work, his new book is entitled Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design.  Or you can learn about it the way I did — a Freakonomics podcast:  http://freakonomics.com/2015/06/17/make-me-a-match-a-new-freakonomics-radio-episode/

It’s quite an interesting topic.

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