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The Advantages of Legalizing the Sale of Human Organs for Transplant

Updated on February 24, 2018
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Zett is a student living in the humble island of Cebu within the colorful archipelago of Philippines. He is currently pursuing his dreams.

There are around 115000 patients who are in need of organ transplants according to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). These patients are victims of a failing organ and are directly placed on a waiting list for any available organs. However, only 3000 patients receive donor organs transplants while the remaining patients die before receiving the organ. The current scenario clearly reflects the shortage of human organs for transplant. This issue has been prevalent in the previous years and only one probable solution has been proposed to the public – the legal sale of human organs.

Patient Undergoing Surgery (Photo by Natanael Melchor)
Patient Undergoing Surgery (Photo by Natanael Melchor)

The proposal of selling human organs has been one of the most viable solutions to the shortage of organs for transplant. However, this solution has been met with a firm refusal mainly on the public and scientific community due to a number of reasons. First, the selling of human organs has been viewed as ‘unethical’ and ‘neglect of human dignity.’ Based on Julie Corwin, people who have sold their organs feel “socially isolated and discriminated.” Second, the current relationship between the black market and the live donor or seller is not good. Stories of the people who had sold their organs in the black market revolve mostly around the patient not receiving any post-treatment after the surgery. These patients suffer from any kinds of infection and other unhealthy condition. And finally, given that the sale of human organs is legalized, the people particularly the poor would be vulnerable to criminal acts such the stealing of organs.

Though the sale of human organs has justifiable reasons to be dismissed as a solution to the problem of organ shortage, the proposal still has its own share of pros which could outweigh the negative view of the solution.

Increase in the Supply of Organs

Increase in the Number of Organs (Photo by Rawpixel)
Increase in the Number of Organs (Photo by Rawpixel)

If the sale of human organs is legalized, one of the observable effects would the increase of the number of available organs for transplant. Since people are compensated for giving their organ, this could incite a number of people to undergo surgery for organ removal. The increasing number of organs would then directly affect all the patients needing the organ transplant. Patients most likely would not experience months of waiting for an organ to arrive. The increase of supply of the organs could then decrease the mortality rate of the patients needing the organs.

Decrease in Organ Price

Money is a Problem for Poor Patients (Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov)
Money is a Problem for Poor Patients (Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov)

In the basic economic concept, the increase of supply could lead to a decrease of price. This is true for the organs as well. The current price of human organs is expensive that poor people obviously cannot afford. For instance, the price of a single kidney – the most popular organ on the shortage list – fetches at around $1000 while a pair of the same organ is around $1249. The high price of the organs is due mainly to the “rarity of the commodity” and the non-existent competition in the industry. However, when the sale of human organs is legalized, the scenario changes drastically. The rise in the number of available organs creates a drop in the prices of the organs. This makes the human organs more accessible to people.

Better Organ Quality

Licensed Surgeons Doing Surgery (Photo by Piron Guillaume)
Licensed Surgeons Doing Surgery (Photo by Piron Guillaume)

The black market has been notorious for the bad organ quality. Since they are no professionals that can perform the correct process in the screening of the organs and the surgery for the organ removal, this could deteriorate the quality of the organs. But with the legalization of the sale of human organs, the government and the scientific-medical communities would set guidelines and standard in choosing the best quality of the organs. After all, no one would want to buy something that’s unappealing and damaged, right? Moreover, the right professionals such as the surgeons, doctors, and nurses would likely tend to the donor-seller carefully in order to acquire the best organ given the donor-seller is a good condition.

Well-Off Donor

The donor of the organ is the only one left uncompensated in the current situation of donating an organ contradictory to the condition of the patient and the doctors and surgeon. The patient would likely become healthy after the operation while the doctors and surgeons received their salaries. Thus, this could be the main reason why most people avoid donating their organs. Other donor-sellers who approach the black market are even left in a worse situation; their bodies become physically unfit and some even die days after the surgery. Legalizing the sale of human organs clearly give a different story.

Guaranteed Post-Treatment for Donor/Seller (Photo by Matheus Ferrero)
Guaranteed Post-Treatment for Donor/Seller (Photo by Matheus Ferrero)

Patients would be compensated with the price of their organs. For example, Mr. Drak who had sold his organ in Iran – the only country which legalized the sale of human organs – has been compensated $2000 to $4000 for his kidney. This compensation could alleviate their financial situation and their living standards. The post-treatment of the donor-seller would also be within the guidelines set by the government. The fear of having any complications after the surgery would then lessen. The donor is certainly well-off in health and in wealth.

Economic Growth

Taxes Create Government Projects and Improvements (Photo by Jamie Street)
Taxes Create Government Projects and Improvements (Photo by Jamie Street)

Government regulates the business sector in every country. And in the legalization of the sale of human organs, taxation would like present in the transaction. Taxation boosts the economic activity of the country and could help in the development and implementation of government projects as well as compensation to the donor-seller in case of emergencies.

To Legalize or Not?

The shortage of human organs has been persisting in today’s society. Yet, no concrete solution has been implemented to at least lessen the problem. Currently, the legalization of the sale of human organs for transplant has been the apparent solution to the problem. The solution, however, is faced with numerous criticisms mainly on its immorality and negativity on how the solution is presently looked upon. Only with proper and correct information and information and education, the problem could be solved. As Robert Berman once quote, “The choice before us is not between buying or not buying organs. This is happening regardless of the law. The choice is whether transplant operations and the sale of organs will be regulated or not.”

Your Thoughts

Do you think the sale of human organs should be legalized?

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References:

Block, W. E., Wirth, H. E., & Butt, J. A. (2011). Organ Transplant: Using the Free Market Solves the Problem. Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics.

Corwin, J. (2006, May 16). World: The Risks, Benefits of a Free Market in Organs. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: https://www.rferl.org/a/1068445.html

Friedman, E., & Friedman, A. (2006, February 15). Payment for donor kidneys: Pros and Cons. Kidney International, pp. 960-962.

Hall, A. (2015, December 14). Let People Sell Their Organs. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2015/12/14/sell-organs/#3b5ec3d26e42

Kerstein, S. (2016, June 25). Is it ethical to purchase human organs? Retrieved February 6, 2018, from The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/is-it-ethical-to-purchase-human-organs-60990

Smith, L. (2011, January 5). Sale of Human Organs Should be Legalised, Say Surgeons. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/sale-of-human-organs-should-be-legalised-say-surgeons-2176110.html

Stanford. (2015, October 22). The Sale of Human Organs. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/organs-sale/

United Network for Organ Sharing. (n.d.). Data. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from United Network for Organ Sharing: https://unos.org/data/

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