No Problems Selling Organs
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 119,849 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant, but for most it is only hoping. Only 87 people a day will receive a transplant, while 1,440 are added to the list and 12 die waiting. Allowing healthy persons to sell their organs would go a long way to fixing this shortage.
Opponents argue that some would sell too many of their organs, or organs that are important to their functioning. The most important component of organ sale on a free market would be the installation of a screening and approval process. The requirement of medical approval for all potential organ sellers would ensure that all proceedings are conducted in a safe, healthy, and legal manner. I propose that this process would involve an extensive background check of the donor, recovering all of his or her past medical records, and would only continue if the transplant is deemed necessary for the recipient and healthy for the donor.
With this program I’ve proposed, medical approval would not be the only necessary precursor to the sale of an organ. A series of interviews would be required to follow the screening process to ensure that seller’s “intent” is honest. To relieve any moral constraints, the sale should be inspired by the right attitude. The motivation behind the deed must be more than just the financial incentive.
Furthermore, organ sellers must be counseled to ensure that they understand the sacrifice that is made when they give up an organ – a sacrifice that is much greater than money can ever compensate. It is a serious commitment that many potentially sellers, may not fully understand. It is more than the exchange of a service or the sale of food. Selling an organ may cause a complete change in lifestyle and should not be taken lightly.
The legalization of organ sale would also nearly end the black market organ trade. Although it may not be the most glamorous of comparisons, the current state of the market for organ sale is similar to prostitution; while both practices are currently illegal, they continue to be practiced illicitly. The lack of regulation puts patients at a greater risk. The illegal sale and transplantation of organs are not performed in hospitals or by trained professionals. Instead of helping the needy recipient, this only puts both seller and recipient in greater danger. Legalizing the sale of organs would allow for regulation, thereby ensuring that the operations are performed in secure environments and by the hands of those truly qualified.
The sale of organs meets its toughest critic when we consider the similar concept of the sale of blood. Richard Titmuss’s 1970 study revealed that offering money for giving blood actually decreases the total amount of blood given. However, this study is not applicable to organ sale. In Titmuss’s study, the constant flow of donors who gave blood to strangers out of generosity were largely replaced by a group motivated purely by financial gains. Meanwhile, there are very few organ donors who currently donate their organs to strangers out of generosity. There are those who agree to donate post mortem, and those who donate to friends or loved ones, while hardly any agree to put their own lives at stake to help a stranger. Legalizing the sale of organs sale would not have the same results as legalizing the sale of blood.
Organ sale has the potential to solve the organ shortage problem we face today. Very few of those who wait on organ transplant list will ever realize their dream of escaping the hospital bed or living a full life. Our current system does not meet our demand. If your mother, or child were diagnosed with a defective organ and placed on a transplant list, would you not do anything, give anything, pay anything to restore their life? The least we can do is create the opportunity to find an alternate solution.
Abigail Hall. "Let People Sell Their Organs," Forbes (2015), Accessed 20 Oct. 2016.
Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (New York, Allen Lane, 2011).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, Accessed 20 Oct. 2016.