Are you a giver, a taker, or a matcher? These are three ways of interacting with others, says Wharton professor Adam Grant in his best-seller, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:
- Takers try to get more than they give to others.
- Matchers seek even trades—you help me and I help you.
- Givers, however, freely help others without expecting anything in return.
Paying it forward is a popular type of giver behavior that we have covered several times on OurValues.org. On our 5th anniversary of the column, I selected the most popular pay-it-forward story to highlight today: The future of human organ donation. This column includes links to other columns on paying it forward—including one that involved my family’s rescue last summer on the Great Lakes!
Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant earlier this year, after being on a wait-list for almost two years. He was one of the lucky ones because many people die waiting for a heart, kidney, or other organs. Experts agree there’s a severe shortage of human organs and it will likely get worse. In other columns, I have considered how the principle of “pay it forward” worked in a Great Lakes rescue, a young Detroiter’s effort to help the jobless, Good Samaritan experiments, and even in the form of an app.
Could the pay-it-forward principle also remedy the human-organ shortage?
There are various attempts to solve the shortage. When you get or renew your driver’s license, you can check the box to become an organ donor. Economists offer a market solution: Pay donors. Countries like Singapore pay a considerable sum to someone who is willing to donate an organ. Israel has a “no give, no take” rule: Sign up to donate your organs or you’ll have low priority if you need one in the future.
Kidney chains implement the principle of paying it forward. Here, a grateful relative of a kidney recipient donates a kidney to a third party. We’ve discussed one of these chains before, where you can see a video about it. The chains can grow to be quite long.
Life Sharers is a private non-profit network in the U.S. that implements a variation of the pay-it-forward principle. Here’s how it works, in their words: “LifeSharers members promise to donate upon their death, and they give fellow members first access to their organs. As a LifeSharers member, you will have access to organs that otherwise may not be available to you. As the LifeSharers network grows, more and more organs may become available to you—if you are a member.” A member can still donate organs first to family members.
What do you think of these solutions to the human-organ shortage?
What’s your story about paying it forward?