Merrill Matthews Named Advisor to LifeSharers

Noted Public Policy Analyst to Assist Innovative Organ Donation Network


Nashville, TN -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/27/2006 --Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., has agreed to serve as an advisor to LifeSharers. Doctor Matthews is Director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance and Resident Scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors that gives registered organ donors preferred access to transplantable organs. It was launched in 2002 to help alleviate the shortage of human organs needed for transplant operations. That shortage kills over 6,000 Americans every year.

“The country needs to know that patients on organ waiting lists die needlessly every day, and that we have it in our power to change that,” says Dr. Matthews. “But someone has to push the envelope if we are ever going to overthrow the long-prevailing notion that altruism is the only ethical motive underlying organ donation. LifeSharers and its associated scholars and experts are working to achieve that goal.”

“LifeSharers is increasing the number of organ donors by appealing to rational self-interest,” says David J. Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers. “We give people a chance to save their own lives by agreeing to donate their organs after they can’t use them anymore.”

LifeSharers members agree to donate their organs when they die. They also direct that their organs be offered first to other LifeSharers members, if any member who needs them is a suitable match, before offering them to non-members. They do this through directed donation, which is legal in all fifty states and under federal law. By giving registered organ donors preferred access to their organs, LifeSharers members create an incentive for non-donors to become donors.

The shortage of transplantable organs in the United States is large and growing larger every year. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, over 92,000 Americans are now on the national transplant waiting list. About 45,000 names are added to that list every year. More than half of the people on the waiting list will die before they get a transplant.

“For years we’ve been relying only on altruism to motivate organ donation,” says Dr. Matthews. “The continuing growth of the shortage is proof that we need to try other approaches.”

About 20,000 people receive transplants from deceased organ donors every year, but for every family that consents to donate another family refuses. Americans bury or burn about 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

LifeSharers membership is free and open to all at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, and parents can enroll their minor children. No one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.


Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., is Director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy organization promoting free market health insurance reforms. He is also Resident Scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation. More information about Dr. Matthews is available at


LifeSharers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit network of organ donors. Membership in LifeSharers is free and open to all. LifeSharers does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical handicap, health status, marital status, or economic status. Since its launch on May 22, 2002, LifeSharers has attracted 5,603 members, including members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The LifeSharers web site is at