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Should People be allowed to sell their Kidneys?

Updated on August 3, 2015


“There are many people who die from kidney failure each year because there are not enough donors. But people have two, and only need one to survive. We should allow people to sell one kidney if they want to.”


Currently, donating organs for monetary gains is illegal in many countries, including U.S. However, a number of business and medical communities have a perception that this should be changed. Regardless of the moral implications, such communities are convinced that the balance of ethical and moral concerns leans towards the ability to sell these organs. As such, organizations such as the influential American Medical Association wants the laws restricting organ selling to be altered. This hub presents arguments relating to the issue of whether individuals should be allowed to donate their kidneys for monetary gains.

Why People Should be Allowed to Sell their Kidneys

Francisco (2011) points out that there is no reason to continue banning kidney selling while the business is going on in the black market. In this black market, desperate people would do whatever it takes to sell their organs and get money to help themselves. Since there is no law governing this practice, there would be no appropriate medical care, fair compensation or proper protection. Moreover, it is unjust to let people die while there are those who are willing to donate their organs. The ban on organ sales is a misguided effort since it denies the needy the ability to acquire essential organs. Francisco continues to argue that a legalized and regulated market would prevent such problems. A well-regulated and legalized market would ensure fairer compensation for donors and ensure they are compensated accordingly.

Norrby, (2006) argues that people who are willing to undergo the process of kidney or other organ transplant are mature adults who are conscious on what they are doing. By selling their organs, these people will be able to improve their lives and may be prolong it. If there is restrictions of organ trading , then individuals who are poor will continue in their suffering and therefore, suffer a “double injustice”. Stated differently, the donor will be able to better his or her life from the money generated and more so, the organs will be able to save one or more people (Harris, 1975). Further, free trade of kidney transplant is deemed to increase the number of organ supply for nations that experience a deficit of the same. This is because people from poor nations will troop in and auctioneer their organs in order to acquire money.

There are also some advocates of kidney selling who argue that performing kidney transplant harbors no harm to an individual. After all, an individual only requires one kidney to survive and therefore, there is no problem if he or she decides to sell one and remain with the other. Further, it is pointless to disallow kidney donation from dead people. This is because as Dhar (2013) argues dead people will not use their kidneys. Therefore, their kidneys should be used to save the lives of the living.

Arguments against Sale of Human Kidney

Those against legalization of the kidney market argue that such a move will make many people engage in this trade as a form of enriching themselves arbitrarily. This is despite the side effects that may accrue from this process. Another problem in this kind of trade is that donors will be subjecting themselves to risky circumstances that are usually associated with organ transplants (McKnight C.1996).

Sale of organs subsequently leads to commodification of human organs. In other worlds, human bodies will be turned into commodities sold in local market. This will further create controversy regarding whether the “owner” of the organ could be allowed to sale his or her organ to whomever he wants. Although one may own his or her body as a whole, this does not imply that it can be sold anyhow. It is not improper either to consider human beings as commodities. Just as there are restrictions on how one can sell his or her labor such as laws relating to minimum wages, there has also to be laws restricting the use of handling of human body.

My Stance

I will place my stance using the concept of alienable and inalienable rights. All human beings are the owners of their body parts, bodily fluids and genes by the fact that they are attached to them. In accordance to Black’s Law Dictionary, (Sixth Edition, page 1523), the word “Unalienable” refers to being incapable of being sold or transferred to another. All human beings were created equal, and there is nobody who should exercise control over another. On the other hand, Alienable rights are those rights where one is allowed to sell or transfer his or her body part to another person. Demanding that we have alienable rights for our bodies is morally outrageous. This is because although we may own our body parts, we have allegiance to our creator on how we use our bodies. Even for atheists, natural law supports that all humanity possesses “Unalienable” rights. There is no lesser human being.

This definition of alienable and unalienable rights can have many perspectives for different people. It can entail that individuals possess rights to protect themselves or rather to do whatever they wished with their bodies. An alienable right does not however, exclusively imply that one exercises the rights with no limitations. For instance, one cannot just sell or donate his or her body without the authority of the government jurisdiction. Patients are given rights of autonomy to decide on what they want with their body parts. According to Helga and Singer, (2006) this has all along posed a challenge in the health profession (Helga & Singer, 2006). Consequently, extending such autonomy for individuals to sell their body organs will have an adverse effect not only on the medical field, but also to the society.


It would not be appropriate to legalize donation of kidneys for monetary purposes. This owes to the risk associated with the process of kidney transplant. Even though the supply of these organs may rise and hence save more lives as claimed, more problems will also be experienced. Governments The can look for other alternative ways of acquiring organs to save lives such using body parts from animals instead of human beings and encouraging pre-death voluntary donation.


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