Social Marketing: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

By Marvin E. Goldberg; Martin Fishbein et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 21
Advertising and Its Role in Organ Donation

Jeffrey Prottas
Brandeis University


BACKGROUND

American law--in fact, the law in all Western nations--forbids the buying and selling of human organs and tissue (although there are limited exceptions in the United States for certain blood products). In addition, federal and state laws require that families of potential tissue and organ donors be given the option to donate when the deceased is medically suitable. This is called required request.

In combination, these laws make organ and tissue donation ideal candidates for social marketing and advertising. The supply of transplantable tissue is a function of the number of families asked to donate and the number of those asked who agree. Required request laws are a partial answer to the problem of ensuring that all suitable families are asked. Although practice falls far short of theory, these laws, and the intensive efforts of organ procurement organizations (OPOs) to motivate medical professionals, aim to increase the number of families asked.

But there remains the issue of motivating families to answer affirmatively. The families cannot be offered any material incentive whatsoever. Appeals to them must be on an ethical and social plane. This is a natural environment for social marketing.

It is also important to understand that it is the donor's family that must be persuaded. Here practice departs from law. In law, individuals may determine how their organs are to be disposed of after death by completing

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