Mr. McCollough’s Classroom Kidney Conundrum (By Andrew Straw, Social Sciences Chair, and Tim McCullough, Economics & Government Instructor)

While more than 15,000 patients in the United State receive a new kidney every year, twelve people die every day waiting for a transplant. Moreover, the amount of time on a waitlist for receiving a kidney can stretch for years. As with all scarce resources, it’s conceivable that kidneys could be sold for large sums of money.

Mr. McCollough teaches his students fundamental economic principles. With this project, however, he asks his on-level economics students to also consider the moral implications of kidney transplants and examine whether or not a strict free market approach to providing transplants is a humane system. For example, a company that bought kidneys from donors and resold the kidneys to the public could be profitable. But would it be ethical?

Using what they learned of opportunity costs, trade, tradeoffs and incentives, teams went through the process of (1) coming up with original solutions, (2) researching current and possible solutions in the US and around the world, (3) considering the viewpoints of all stakeholders, (4) selecting one system that would improve the current situation, and finally (5) presenting their findings.

The teams of students had the ability to develop their own system of solutions to solve the essential problem, “Too many people are dying while waiting for a kidney.” In addition to a sound system of solutions, the teams were to pitch their proposal in a professional manner.

Mr. McCollough reports the students performed well, including $ incentives for drivers to become donors among others.