A Market In Organs

May 25 2012 @ 8:41am


Matt Welch wants to legalize payment for kidney donations:

[W]e know that maintaining prohibition—letting the law be guided by our moral revulsion toward placing price tags on human organs—will certainly increase the body count. We know that boosting the number of kidney donations from the living is the only real way to whittle the waiting list down. And we also know, from such procedures as egg donation, that legalizing monetary rewards is a guaranteed method for expanding the pool of living donors. Your morality may vary, but mine says that sentencing more than 6,000 people a year to an avoidable death falls well short of the Golden Rule. My inquest therefore concludes that the burden of argumentative proof on the legality of kidney sales should fall squarely on those who back the lethal status quo.

Balko is onboard:

With kidneys, and also with vital organs, you could also envision markets that, for example, would pay a smaller sum while you’re still alive if you sign to donate your organs when you die. Another plan might give larger sums to your family once you’re dead, should you die in a manner in which your vital organs remain viable. It also isn’t difficult to imagine “organ brokers” finding that there’s a market advantage to protecting their donors—for example, by including clauses in donor contracts stipulating that any  kidney donor who later encounters health problems requiring a transplant would receive a free kidney,  a paid-for transplant, and move to the top of the donor list—not because organ brokers would necessarily be kind and benevolent, but because if I were donating a kidney, I’m thinking that would be one of my primary concerns, and I’d probably chose a company or system or non-profit that could give me that peace of mind.

(Chart from Mark Perry)