Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Expanding non-directed kidney donation: the Renewal model

An article in the Forward talks about attempts to expand the successful organ donation program of Renewal beyond the Jewish community:
Can an Orthodox Charity Help Save Lives in This Man's Church?

"Although 90% of Renewal’s donors are ultra-Orthodox, about half their recipients are people like Sarna, who come from the broader Jewish community.

"The average wait time for a kidney through Renewal is six to nine months.

"Because many ultra-Orthodox rabbis believe that organ donation from dead bodies is against Jewish law, Renewal focuses solely on live donors. That puts Renewal’s donors in an extremely rare group of several hundred Americans who, each year, donate their kidney altruistically to a stranger.
"Researchers are studying Renewal’s model to see whether it can be replicated in other race- and faith-based communities. Meanwhile, one African-American transplant surgeon is setting up a group modeled on Renewal in a prominent Harlem church.

"Anthony Watkins, an assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, has witnessed Renewal’s work firsthand, ever since he began his transplant fellowship six years ago. “I’ve always thought that what Renewal does is spectacular and fantastic and [that] maybe this could be duplicated in other communities,” he said.

"Watkins thinks that by using Renewal’s model — appealing to African Americans to help fellow African Americans — he can persuade people to donate in greater numbers. “I think once you establish a good rapport and knowledge and education… you can get altruistic donors to step forward,” Watkins said. But how many people are willing to donate a live organ to a stranger?
"Renewal facilitates an average of about 50 kidney transplants a year. About three-quarters of those transplants are ultra-Orthodox donors giving to a Jewish stranger.

"Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for just 0.2% of America’s population. Yet last year, by the Forward’s estimates, they accounted for up to 17% of the people who donated a kidney to strangers.

"Rees realized that if Renewal’s model of communally focused organ donation could be extrapolated to the general population, it could create tens of thousands of additional kidney donors. The waiting list could be reduced to zero. “That’s what Renewal has achieved,” Rees said, “and that is nothing short of amazing.”

"Rees contacted Duke University to see if researchers there could investigate whether Renewal’s model could be replicated in Christian communities.

"Last year, two Duke professors, David Toole and Kim Krawiec, put together an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students, including lawyers, physicians, sociologists and theologians, to examine new methods of increasing living kidney donation.
"Renewal leads donors and recipients through every stage of the transplant process. It is particularly important for kidney donors, who receive very little financial support from insurance companies and the state. Renewal covers lost wages, transportation and any necessary hotel costs. It also offers domestic support such as house cleaning, laundry services and catering. Reiner said that the average cost of a transplant, including the group’s administrative overhead, is about $20,000.
"The United Network for Organ Sharing, which tracks donations nationally, counts a kidney donation as “altruistic” only if the donor does not specify to whom the kidney is given. Last year it tracked 180 such altruistic donations.

"Because Renewal’s donors choose the recipient of their kidney — even though they have no personal relationship with them — UNOS categorizes them in a larger pool of 1,273 living donors who directed their kidney to a “non-relative.”

"Based on this method, Renewal’s donors account for about 2% or 3% of living donations to non-family members.

"But Duke University’s Toole says that it is unfair to compare Renewal’s donors to most other donors in this larger pool because most of those donors know the recipient of their kidney. Renewal’s donors give to strangers. “What makes the model so interesting,” Toole said, is that “it’s some in-between space” between directed donations and altruistic donations."

See my earlier post on Renewal here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dynamic Games: 26th Jerusalem Summer School in Economic Theory (deadline April 27)

Theory and experiments in Jerusalem this summer...

26th Jerusalem School in Economic Theory

Dynamic Games

Event date: Jun 24 - Jul 3, 2015

    Eric Maskin, Director (Harvard University)
    Elchanan Ben-Porath, Codirector (The Hebrew University)
    Drew Fudenberg (Harvard University)

    In many economic, social, and political settings, participants interact strategically not just once but over time.

    When raising its import tariffs today, for example, a country will try to anticipate the reactions of its trading partners tomorrow. And an oligopolistic firm can learn from its rivals’ past pricing behavior so as to gauge what prices they are likely to set now.

    The Summer School will emphasize theoretical aspects of dynamic games, but will also include work on experiments.

    List of speakers:
    Robert Aumann (The Hebrew University)
    Martin Cripps (University College London)
    Guillaume Fréchette (New York University)
    Drew Fudenberg (Harvard University)
    Sergiu Hart (The Hebrew University)
    Johannes Hörner (Yale University)
    Navin Kartik (Columbia University)
    George Mailath (University of Pennsylvania)
    Eric Maskin (Harvard University)
    Abraham Neyman (The Hebrew University)
    Larry Samuelson (Yale University)
    Alistair Wilson (University of Pittsburgh)

Deadline for applications: April 27

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Stable Marriage Problem and School Choice, at the American Mathematical Society--column by David Austin

The American Mathematical Society has a column by David Austin on The Stable Marriage Problem and School Choice 

He writes:
"This column will present the game-theoretic results contained in the original Gale-Shapley paper along with Roth's subsequent analysis. Pathak calls the deferred acceptance algorithm "one of the great ideas in economics," and Roth and Shapley were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in economics for this work...

He gives a straightforward mathematical treatment of some of the main theoretical results, in context:

"Using ideas described in this column, economists Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag Pathak, and Alvin Roth designed a clearinghouse for matching students with high schools, which was first implemented in 2004. This new computerized algorithm places all but about 3000 students each year and results in more students receiving offers from their first-choice schools. As a result, students now submit lists that reflect their true preferences, which provides school officials with public input into the determination of which schools to close or reform. For their part, schools have found that there is no longer an advantage to underrepresenting their capacity.

The key to this new algorithm is the notion of stability, first introduced in a 1962 paper by Gale and Shapley. We say that a matching of students to schools is stable if there is not a student and a school who would prefer to be matched with each other more than their current matches. Gale and Shapley introduced an algorithm, sometimes called deferred acceptance, which is guaranteed to produced a stable matching. Later, Roth showed that when the deferred acceptance algorithm is applied, a student can not gain admittance into a more preferred school by strategically misrepresenting his or her preferences."

- See more at: http://www.ams.org/samplings/feature-column/fc-2015-03#sthash.LoiUEphE.dpuf

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kidney exchange in Switzerland

Here's a paper reviewing kidney exchange around the world, from an Australian perspective (Paolo Ferrari has been one of the Australian pioneers), and advocating for a national kidney exchange program in Switzerland...

Kidney paired donation: a plea for a Swiss National Programme

Karine Hadayaa,b, Thomas Fehrc, Barbara Rüsic, Sylvie Ferrari-Lacrazd, Jean Villardd, Paolo Ferrarie,f
a Service of Nephrology. Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland
b Service of Transplantation, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland
c Service of Nephrology and Histocompatibility laboratory, Zurich University Hospital, Switzerland
d Transplant Immunology Unit and National Reference Laboratory for Histocompatibility (LNRH), Division of Immunology, Allergy and Laboratory Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland
e Department of Nephrology, Prince of Wales Hospital and Clincal School, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Sydney, Australia
f Organ and Tissue Authority, Australia


Growing incidence of end-stage renal disease, shortage of kidneys from deceased donors and a better outcome for recipients of kidneys from living donor have led many centres worldwide to favour living donor kidney transplantation programmes. Although criteria for living donation have greatly evolved in recent years with acceptance of related and unrelated donors, an immunological incompatibility, either due to ABO incompatibility and/or to positive cross-match, between a living donor and the intended recipient, could impede up to 40% of such procedures. To avoid refusal of willing and healthy living donors, a number of strategies have emerged to overcome immunological incompatibilities. Kidney paired donation is the safest way for such patients to undergo kidney transplantation. Implemented with success in many countries either as national or multiple regional independent programmes, it could include simple exchanges between any number of incompatible pairs, incorporate compatible pairs and non-directed donors (NDDs) to start a chain of compatible transplantations, lead to acceptance of ABO-incompatible matching, and integrate desensitising protocols. Incorporating all variations of kidney paired donation, the Australian programme has been able to facilitate kidney transplantation in 49% of registered incompatible pairs. This review is a plea for implementing a national kidney paired donation programme in Switzerland.
Swiss Med Wkly. 2015;145:w14083

Friday, April 17, 2015

Are firearms becoming a protected transaction on college campuses?

Inside Higher Ed has the story, on the clash when a transaction that some regard as repugnant is regarded as protected by others:  Momentum for Campus Carry

"At least 11 states are considering whether to allow concealed weapons on college campuses this year, the latest chapter in a now seemingly annual legislative debate between gun control advocates and gun rights supporters.

"Bills have been introduced, at least once, in almost half of the 50 states in the past few years. Despite slow success thus far -- just seven states have adopted versions of campus carry laws -- gun rights advocates have their eyes on two very large prizes this year: Florida and Texas.

"Right now, the odds are starting to stack up in their favor. The Texas bill has passed the Senate and is on its way to House. The version in Florida has passed through two Senate committees and is headed to the Judiciary Committee.
"Yet for all its familiarity, the idea of guns on campus is relatively novel. Campus carry was largely a nonissue a decade ago, when the University of Utah went to court to defend its autonomy and the related right to stay gun-free. A few years later, Oregon, Mississippi and Wisconsin began explicitly allowing guns on campus.

"In all, seven states have laws that allow concealed guns on campus, though the details vary on who can carry where. Twenty states still ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, and 23 states leave the decision up to individual colleges."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Uber and "safety by design"

I've written a lot about how marketplaces have to help markets become thick, deal with the congestion that can accompany thick markets, and make the market safe to participate in.  I just got a nice email from Uber illustrating how they are thinking about that third point, on the rider side of the market.

Drivers pass federal, multi-state, and county background checks before driving.
Extensive Screening
Uber prohibits drug or alcohol offenses, severe traffic violations, and sexual offenses.
From pick up to drop off, your ride is covered by a $1M commercial insurance policy.


Safe Pickups
The app pinpoints your location so you can request a ride from anywhere and wait safely.
Nobody’s A Stranger
Your driver's name, photo, and vehicle information appear in the app.
Disguised Phone Numbers
Communication between riders and drivers is anonymized to protect private phone numbers.


Always On The Map
The GPS-enabled map provides your driver's location and trip details in real-time.
Share My ETA
Share your ETA with friends and family to keep track of your ride and safe arrival.
Hassle-Free Payments
Your credit card is on file so you never need to carry cash or stop at an ATM.


Actionable Feedback
You rate your experience after every trip and drivers do the same.
Trip History
After each ride, you receive a detailed email receipt with trip route, driver name, and total fare.
24/7 Support
Lose something? Have questions? Contact our 24/7 customer support.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Food trucks trade assigned spaces in Washington DC

D.C. food trucks look to new platform to swap spaces assigned in lottery

"It didn’t take long after D.C. started doling out parking spaces to the city’s food trucks that the D.C., Maryland and Virginia Food Truck Association hit on one unfailing principal of economics: Where one market pops up, a secondary market will surely follow.
Food truckers, after getting their assigned spaces in the city's mobile roadway vending zones each month, were frantically hitting up the association’s message board with requests to trade days. It made for way too many emails, and not a lot of successful trades.
So the DMVFTA decided to find a better way. Now, a few months later, the association is about to launch its very own digital trading platform on its website.
"Hoffman had a group of masters students who needed a final project. With her guidance, those students developed a proof-of-concept program that took into account the truckers’ preferences for trades and automatically assigned new slots. In the end, the program spits out a new schedule for assigned spots that can be submitted to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, so they are able to enforce the assignments."

HT: Paul Milgrom