Thursday, June 18, 2015

NPR's Marketplace: Ryssdal interviews Dubner about his newest Freakonomics podcast--the four minute version

An algorithm that matches kidney patients and donors
The link above will take you to the four-minute version of the fifty minute Freakonomics podcast in which Dubner interviews me about my new book.
1:17 / 4:07

Doctors from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland transplant a kidney from a living donor into the patient recipient.
Doctors from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, transplant a kidney. 
Matching markets are markets where money isn’t allowed to do what it usually does. For example, school admissions — colleges don’t just raise the tuition price until demand meets supply. Or how new M.D.’s get assigned to their residencies — they can’t just buy their way into the hospital they want. In each case, you have to find a way to match a candidate with an available slot.
You also can't buy a kidney, or pay for somebody's college education to get a kidney, or purchase a car for them in exchange of a kidney.
So how can you make a market for something that is indivisible and can’t put a price on? Al Roth, a professor of economics at Stanford, realized that this model could be adapted to help kidney patients find a potential donor.
"Let’s pretend you and I, Kai, we both need a kidney transplant. And that both of us have a relative who’s willing to donate one, but your relative is not a biological match for you and mine isn’t for me," says Stephen Dubner, author of "Freakonomics." "Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could enter all your data and all of the donor's data into some algorithm that could magically sort these data from all the transplant centers in the country and match up donors and patients?"
Roth’s algorithm has helped save a lot of lives. Ruthanne Leishman from the United Network for Organ Sharing says the United States has about 600 kidney paired donation transplants per year right now. In 2000, the U.S only had two.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.

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