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This is "Death panels" in a fancy suit. Bid on life saving medical treatment from a thumbnail? By someones looks? and a possibly fabricated story?

So now we the internet get to decide who lives and dies? Who has a healthy fulfilling life and who lives with disease and disability? Idk about this idea. Its well intentioned, but oh so wrong all at the same time.

This type of charity should be first come first serve to be fair. Not some bidding war over who's the most sickly (but still cute) looking child, or who has the most compelling story. A human is a human.

The good intentions are there, but something about the way this website presents itself is twisted. Why should any of these people receive preferential funding over any other of them? Why should I get to choose? I'm not an expert on their medical conditions, or who needs more help than others. If this gets people to give money to a good cause, thats fine. But Idk. Still seems odd.

Sorry if this is the kind of "negativity" hacker news is trying to avoid these days, but this is genuinely what I feel.




We are bummed out that the site makes you feel this way, but we genuinely appreciate you voicing your opinion. We're here to listen to the public, and if people disagree with what we are doing, we will shut down immediately. That said, I'd like to point out a few things.

1) This is not a bidding war. We won't remove a profile until it is fully funded. This is why we only post a few profiles at a time (and not hundreds) - to ensure they are all funded in a reasonable amount of time. If the patient needs treatment before the profile is funded, we will front the cost of care.

2) Humanity has always decided who lives and who dies, and it sucks. It makes me angry, but it's a reality. The only difference is now, because of how connected the world is becoming, this reality is a little harder for those of us that are the most fortunate, to ignore.

3) We aren't first come first serve. That wouldn't make sense, because our Doctors identify patients, they don't identify us (that would lead to fraud). Instead, we are lowest-cost, highest-impact first. Every profile is reviewed by at least two independent doctors (usually more) to determine which cases are the best ones to fund (and I assure you that "cuteness" is not a criteria these Doctors use to make a decision). See our FAQ for more info on treatment guidelines.

We feel terrible that our site presents itself in a way that you think is twisted, and we would love to make whatever changes we can to improve it. Feel free to reach out to me directly at chase (at) watsi (dot) org with any other thoughts. We've spent a lot of time thinking about this (and even consulted with a medical ethicist), but we always have a lot more to learn.

But perhaps the most important thing - the internet funded 11 medical treatments today for people that wouldn't have had access to them otherwise. You guys literally changed (and saved) 11 lives. I don't know how that can be a bad thing.


Alexanderh's main concern is he doesn't want to choose who gets treatment:

>This type of charity should be first come first serve to be fair. Not some bidding war over who's the most sickly (but still cute) looking child, or who has the most compelling story. A human is a human. The good intentions are there, but something about the way this website presents itself is twisted. Why should any of these people receive preferential funding over any other of them? Why should I get to choose? I'm not an expert on their medical conditions, or who needs more help than others. If this gets people to give money to a good cause, thats fine. But Idk. Still seems odd.

Can't you also provide a way to pay to a common pool? People who are uncomfortable with choosing can contribute to this pool. You can take money from that pool and forward that to patients who urgently want money for treatment? And people who contributed can see where their money got used (if they want).


Definitely! That's a great suggestion rkwz. There is a new crowdfunding site called Wishbone that actually has a "profile" that serves as a general fund. Would something like that be a good solution? http://wishbone.org/students


Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind!


Alexanderh, that's a really interesting criticism. I understand where your coming from with the concern that the photogenic will absorb more funding than they should (a morally questionable advantage). To a lesser extent I also see why the concept of having people choose, as if sitting in judgment, makes you uncomfortable.

I suspect however that you are thinking of the donation pool as a fixed one, rather than a flexible one. It seems likely that having a face, a name and a story will cause people to engage and ultimately donate more. Donor fatigue ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donor_fatigue ) is a very real thing, and specific interactions with specific recipients that have visible outcomes to the donor on a human scale do a lot to avoid it.

So the question really becomes: Is it ok to let the photogenic people be more likely to get treatment if it means more people get treatment overall? Is it ok to let folks sit in judgment if it means they will save more people as a result.

I think we all have to come to our own conclusions. I for one am blown away by what this site is doing. I'm willing to let the photogenic do better than normal if it means more personal engagement. I also think that we all make choices about who we help live and who we leave to suffer every day. Relegating those choices to chance doesn't seem to me to be any more moral than selecting on other criteria. In fact it's something you are already forced to do because their are several different charities out their to choose between.


How is this a "death panel"? These people are currently not receiving treatment they need, and this site helps give it to them. Nothing is being denied to anyone here.


Not really. There are children on there I see who aren't "cute", cleft palates and all.

I really feel your argument is specious. Having a photo of the child allows you to see the human face of misery.


I also found it genuinely disturbing for the same reason. The 'you decide' aspect of the site seems very sick to me.

I think the moral dilemma could be solved easily by just having a single fund that you pay into. The money is then distributed among the people who need treatment. No input from the giver.


The problem is that you get fewer donations if you do it that way, because people prefer to donate to a story.




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