Legalizing Sale of Organs Essay

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Organ Sales

When it comes to the sale of organs from one party to another, there are usually two "camps" that people fall within. Those camps are inclusive of people that rae entirely against the practice in any form and then there are those that feel that some level of person-to-person sales should be allowed for so long as the parties involved face certain rules. Even with the concerns about organs going to the highest bidder, there are diametrically opposed concerns and assertions including the right of an owner of a kidney being able to sell to who he or she wants and the fact that the proceeds from such a transaction can be life-changing in nature. While it may be controversial and problematic to some, there is a middle ground to be had between allowing organ sales between people with no limitation and never doing so under any circumstances.


To be clear, what is being suggested in this report is that the current framework seen whereby there is a singular acceptable organ sales/receipt framework and where all other sales are disallowed is not a fully viable solution. This paper shall argue that there should be the ability for some autonomous markets that allow for and facilitate organ sales but there should also remain a firm ban on organ trade frameworks and transactions that cross too many ethical and legal lines. The argument against autonomous but legal organ sales is a strong one, that generally being the idea that organs should not go the highest bidder and that allowing such a paradigm allows the rich and powerful to be able to procure organs even if they might be better served going to someone else. For example, many people can and would make the argument that a billionaire in his 80's and with a drinking habit should not ever get a new liver over someone that is in their 20's and has a problem that is hereditary or otherwise not his/her fault. Even so, the organ in question does not belong to anyone but the donor person in question and there is the alternative argument that the donor, and only the donor, should have the final say on who gets the liver portion and why. Even with the idea that the organ is his/hers to gives, there are many people that say that the ethics and money stakes involved pollute the situation entirely too much and that equity will never win out when greed or even good faith concerns about money are part of the situation. Further, there is the argument that while many people will give a life-saving transplant to others for no remuneration, there are others that assert that such compensation is more than fair to at least consider. As such, to only side with one extreme of the argument is not fair as there is not the maximization of benefit to everyone involved, both donors and recipients.

A good and real-world example of why neither extreme is acceptable is seen in the case of Alberty Jose de Silva. It became known to him that he could sell one of his kidneys and receive a rather large amount of money for doing so. Beyond that, the large amount of money was actually more than a decade's worth of wages since he would often have to slave and toil just to receive a dollar a day. In the case of a kidney, he could receive six thousand dollars in one fail swoop. Of course, there are the arguments that the two people involved, the person who needs the kidney and the prospect donor, are being "exploited" by an organ trafficking ring. The person who needs the kidney is obviously face death and shoddy quality of life. The person who has the kidney to give is in rather horrible poverty and the amount of money that he would be paid would be life-changing in an instantaneous way. Even with that all being the case, the people that were facilitating the trade were not doing so blindly and without any regard to details. Ivan Bonifacio de Silva and Gedalya Tauber, the creators of the deal, made it a point to have medical exams and other tests so as to "weed out" people that would not be fit as the donor for the person that they were seeking the kidney before. This may very well be due to not wanting to kill their customer.
Even so, it is clear that they were not being entirely brazen and uncaring about the results so long as they money was there. They truly wanted to find a viable donor and pay the person who gave the kidney so that the donor and the recipient both yielded a clear and obvious benefit. However, Silva and Tauber were arrested for what they were trying to do. While some may root and cheer for such a result, there are people in world-renowned organizations and groups, even ones like the World Health Organization (WHO), that assert that many bioethicists and philosophers see the system that Silva and Tauber were trying to wield were instead an extension of the idea of autonomy. The fact that exploitation on a scale that almost rivals that of sex trafficking and similar endeavors is a very dangerous part of the paradigm scares away many, but not all, people when it comes to organ markets and sales frameworks (Rohter, 2004).

One country that has legalized autonomous organ trade that has gotten the attention of even some scholars in the West is that of Iran. A study was done about the subject in a 2008 academic journal article. It is openly suggested in the headline of the journal that Iran's pattern of paying kidney donors should perhaps become the norm in other parts of the world. As noted before, donors are commonly not compensated. However, this leads to people only giving organs upon their death or in the case that they can do so for a person they are aware of and that does not kill themselves in the process, such as the person in Brazil mentioned earlier giving one of his kidney's and then presumably getting by with the one that remains. That is precisely the centerpiece of the argument made for donations in Iran. Indeed, people that give a kidney are often just fine with one kidney rather than two and the person who receives the donor kidney is able to be restored to a normal life. The aforementioned WHO makes the case for compensated donations due to the fact that of the 660,000 people that need a transplant ever year, only about ten percent actually receive one. That is a scant 66,000 out of the 660,000 that need them. Even if the proverbial "skids" need to be greased in the form of paying the donors, the use of regulated and legal organ trade frameworks is seen as a way to bridge that huge gap while at the same time incurring people to give an organ when they otherwise might not do so (Major, 2008).

As partially noted before, the main counter-argument when it comes to the organ trade is that it is ethically and legally dubious, and with good reason. Another reason, however, that the organ trade should be abolished is seen in the form of what is coming on the horizon in terms of organs being available for people that need them. Indeed, there is the prospect that organs can be created and replicated using stem cells, thus negating the need to have donor people in the first place. Rather than having to allow on the misfortune and/or grace of others, there is the possibility that the stem cells of the person who needs the organ or a compatible peer could be used to manufacture a replacement organ. The one main roadblock when it comes to this option is that while it is very intriguing and promising, it is not a viable solution as of yet. This will possibly or probably change in the months and years to come. However, until it is something that can be done at will and when needed by the medical community, some modicum of organ trading and sales will be necessary to even come close to providing organs for those that need them (McGowan, 2014).

There are even voices in the American and Western sphere that suggest that organ sales should be permitted. As noted by others, including in this report, the donor only framework does save lives but there are also many other people that go uncured and not helped due to a shortage of donors. This goes against the grain (not to mention the law) that is commonly in place. For example, selling an organ (at all) is an illegal act and encouraging any sort….....

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Hall, A. (2015). Let People Sell Their Organs. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

Major, R. (2008). Paying kidney donors: time to follow Iran?. PubMed Central (PMC).

Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

McGowan, K. (2014). Scientists Make Progress in Growing Organs From Stem Cells | Discover Magazine. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

Miller, J. (2017). Man who was denied lung transplant over marijuana use dies. New York Post.

Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

Peers, R. (2017). Pro/Con Selling Organs. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

Rohter, L. (2004). THE ORGAN TRADE: A Global Black Market; Tracking the Sale of a Kidney

On a Path of Poverty and Hope. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from

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