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Ethical Standards on Selling and Donating Human Organs

Updated on June 24, 2018

Save Lives by Donating Organs

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

One of the most intriguing social and economic topics to discuss today is the idea of how people donate and sell their organs in exchange for money. Many people believe that donating and selling their body parts or organs are ways of helping other people and themselves and obtaining financial rewards. However, other people strongly oppose the idea of selling and donating human organs because, for them, it is unethical. However, reading the article from forbes.com may change their perspectives. Based on the article, there are young girls who are suffering from kidney troubles and need medical and surgical operations. In hopes to help their little girls to live their lives, they consult their doctors with the best options possible and that choice is to administer a kidney transplant. The parents only have one year to look for kidney donors while then time keeps moving. Days, weeks, and months are about to end; however, none of the expected donors come to their rescue. At the most fragile days of their girls, they are hopeless to find donors because many people believe selling and donating their organs are unethical. The time comes, and the little girls die leaving those parents at the peak of grief. Unknowingly, there are a few who want to donate and sell, but they are afraid of what many people say when they sell their kidneys for bucks of money so that they can escape poverty and start new lives. If those supposed-to-be donors are confident enough to help and save other lives, those little girls have years to live. If the only sell and donate their organs to those little girls, they help save lives. Are they actually saving other lives or are they selling in order for them to survive?

Selling and donating organs are ethical. In Iran, for example, citizens sold their organs to their government to acquire money. In the struggling economy of Iran and in the rising condition of poverty today, some Iranians chose to sell their organs to live and use the money to start their new lives. For them, they could sell their organs as long as they would still have years to live. Some of them had to sell their organs so that they could feed their children and send them to schools, pay for their mortgage, and spend the rest to start their own businesses. Paradoxically, many of them sell their organs because they want to live with their loved ones. The money that they obtain from selling their organs can be enough to start their new lives. However, ethicists strongly believe that the act of selling and donating with cash payments remains unethical. For them, it is similar to committing suicide when they sell their organs. On the contrary, they only sell their organs because they want to live, which makes this point a difficult to infer. It may sound weird that they sell their organs for money but that they do it to help other people and their families, too. Under the most struggling and painful current circumstances, they help save others’ lives for others and for their loved ones, which ethicists do not have the rights to judge them. As such, it stands to reason that selling and donating is ethical beyond any doubts.

Some countries and organizations create systems about donations and sales of organs. It is done to eliminate over-pricing and unethical activities. The system itself enlists those people who have risky job positions such as soldiers, construction workers, and drivers, and when accidents happen that they become terminally ill and dying, they permit the hospital to harvest their organs to help the sick people and help their families from hunger and poverty. In fact, countries such as Spain and Belgium were successful in implementing this program, but the United States had a few positive reactions because many believe the act is unethical and immoral. However, they cannot deny the fact that saving other lives is not at all unethical.

Conversely, many people nowadays have been participating in the selling and donating of organs after the global recession. In India, Philippines, and Thailand, for instance, “selling and donating organs are made legal to help save lives” (Goyal et al. 1592). Thousands of people died every single day in car accidents or any incidents, but thousands of people lived because they received organs from their unknown donors. This statistics might sound dehumanizing; nonetheless, it also became a humane cause of helping other people to have their second chances to live. The major purpose regardless of the negative impressions has always been saving other lives. In the United Kingdom, for example, many people waited for some people who wanted to donate their organs, and around 667 people offered their organs and more than two thousands of other people received organ transplants. Again, the statistics are a bit alarming how many people today accustomed to selling their organs for money. Roughly speaking, thousands of mature people experienced dialysis and heart problems, and many young individuals especially kids who tried to ask for extensions of their lives (Clark 2). In fact, the statistics could not tell how many of these people demanded help to sustain their lives. In India, hundreds of thousands of new patients were suffering from kidney failure, and they needed medical attention. In this case, many people engaged in the business to sell their organs and donate them to help others while at the same time helping themselves and their families to survive in the struggling economy. Nonetheless, many others refused the idea of donating and selling their organs because “they had the responsibilities and duties to care for their lives and keeping them away from danger” (Cohen 56). They pointed out that people had their obligations to save their lives and protect them from harm. On the contrary, they could help their lives to stay healthy if they never had money to buy for food and medicine. If they never help others, many will die. That is why selling and donating organs to help save lives are certainly not unethical.

Perhaps, the definition of ethics should be reviewed with utmost consideration. Ethics covers ethical judgments on actions and behaviors about the right and wrong. Cheating on examinations at schools and telling lies in the workplaces are two unethical conditions. Using company’s cars, telephones, and other properties were still unethical because people use the companies’ properties without asking whether they are allowed to be used or not (Annas 23). As long as the company managers permitted these people to use their company services and properties, they were ethical. It was the same logic when people sell and donate their organs with money. Yes, it may sound unethical and immoral because the donors receive large amounts of money and because they make it for their personal businesses. In fact, the pretense about the ethics of buying and selling organs largely depends on the perceptions of the people. What is unethical is the idea that people, especially for some organizations, take advantage of the process. Medical doctors and hospitals receive higher salaries and incentives from the operations while the donors only acquire less than the doctors and medical staff obtain. In this nature, selling and donating the organs become unethical in general sense of the world, but it does not become unethical for the donors who do not know such process.

The market for buying and selling organs today attracts many donors. Instead, the patients are going to the hospitals for dialysis, they can request for transplants and medications because it is made legal. Regarding the price, the donors must receive higher price because they risk their lives helping and saving lives. According to Mark (2005), the sellers of organs know that they save lives even if they reasonably receive money. The money is a small thing compared to the worth and precious offer the donors give to the recipients. That is love and altruism even if the donors place their lives in the box of dice waiting to be rolled on the board to death. However, they never think of the danger as long as they help others and save their families from hunger and poverty. Those donors are quite aware of the dangers and the complications of their operations, but they choose to save others and help their families amidst their struggling community. Because they need money to feed for their families and loved ones, they risk and sacrifice themselves for them. Does the act of altruism become unethical? Many will wonder.

Furthermore, all people have the rights to live. To safeguard these civil and human rights, the people and the society have responsibilities to ensure the safety of the poor and the rich. They have the duties to implement this social justice and personal right to gain equal access to medical benefits (Chapman 110). However, the society and some people fail to contribute to the benefits and protection of the people. The rich people continue to demand organs for their sick loved ones while the poor who are unable to provide the better education for their children, unable to support their families, and lack of benefits. However, this scenario did not undergo criticism. Blinded by their critical and stubborn ideas, ethicists consider the act of selling and donating unethical without considering its purpose. To no avail, it remains ethical at all angles of reasoning even if such activities face drawbacks from the ethicists.

Image from Google Images
Image from Google Images

In a nutshell, people have the rights to live. They have their unchallengeable rights to live their lives with independence and pride. When they decide to sell their organs to the markets, it did not necessarily mean that they abuse their lives and kill themselves. It did not necessarily mean that those who receive the transplants violated human rights, freedom to live, and dignity among the lives of the donors. They only participated in the businesses, black market or not, whether they thought they could have chances to live. There were supposed to be no debate on this matter as long as the donors had the consent to sell and donate their organs without force. Even if other people sought this action as immoral and unethical, selling and donating organs in general perspectives were to try saving the possibilities to extend lives or others’ lives. If there chances were people could help save those who need them, why not keep their organs when they could help instead. If many people think that they do not have the rights their organs because they have the obligations to save, care, and protect their lives, they also have the duty to save, help, and maintain others’ lives in order to live. In the end, the point is simple, and it is up for the persons to donate and sell their organs to people as long as they do it on their own freewill.

Works Cited

Annas, George J. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Organ Sales.” Hastings Center Report, Volume 14 (February 1984), pp. 22-23.

Borna, Shaheen. “Morality and Marketing Human Organs.” Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 6 (1987), pp. 37-44.

Chapman, Fern S. “The Life and Death Questions of an Organ Market.” Fortune (11 June 1984), pp. 108-118.

Cherry, Mark J. “Kidney for sale by owner: human organs, transplantation, and the market.” Georgetown University Press, 2005.

Clark, Marcia. “Selling Your Organs: Should it be Legal? Do You Own Yourself?” Forbes.com. 2013. Web. 9 Jul. 2015. Print.

Cohen, Cynthia B. “Public policy and the sale of human organs.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 12.1 (2002): 47-64.

Goyal, Madhav, et al. “Economic and health consequences of selling a kidney in India.” Journal of American Medical Association 288.13 (2002): 1589-1593.

Hansmann, Henry. “The economics and ethics of markets for human organs.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 14.1 (1989): 57-85.

Mahoney, Julia D. “Altruism, Markets, and Organ Procurement.” Law & Contemporary Problems 72 (2009): 17.

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