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Organ Donation Compensation, Essay Example

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Words: 850

Essay

A Market For A Priceless Item: How Legalizing Organ Sales Will Save Thousands

The state of organ donation in the United States today is a heartbreaking one. Each year nearly 100,000 patients join the waiting list in need of an organ to save their life and each year thousands die before they receive one (organdonor.gov). The fact is that the demand exceeds the supply in the world of organ donation; more people are in need of organs than people willing to donate them. The problem is simple but the solution is more complicated. How do we convince people to donate their organs? The answer is to legalize the sale of organs in order to compensate donors for their organs. This is a much debated proposal and in this paper I will briefly address and refute several of the arguments against it but demonstrate that in the end this kind of program is necessary to boost organ donations and will also eliminate the black market on organs thus preventing the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives annually.

There are two kinds of donation. One is called a Living Donation (LD) when a person donates an organ they can survive without, such as a kidney, while still alive. The other is called Deceased Donation (DD). Deceased Donation is a decision made by the person while they are alive authorizing the harvesting of their organs upon death (Bouleware 2774).  Unfortunately a DD cannot always be counted on to provide. In Britain for example 28% of the population is registered for DD but only 1% of those people on average die in circumstances in which their organs can be used for donation (Smith). Live donor organs also have a much higher success rate than deceased donor tissue (Monti 4). The fact is we need more live donors in order to match the demand for organs with a supply. Iran and Singapore have both established a pay system for organs and increased their LD and virtually eliminated their donor waiting lists (Ghods 1136). Immediate monetary compensation is the most successful recruitment tool for live organ donation. However, some argue that this practice could lead to the exploitation of the poor who may donate simply because they see it as a last resort. Yet the poor are entreated to take part in much more dangerous and exploitative practices than organ donation such as mining, prostitution or even joining the Army because they can use the money to pay for college. The complications rate for a kidney transplant is only .03% (Monti 3). If these other dangerous practices are legal and it is understood that low-income people can assess the risks and decide for themselves if the money is worth the undertaking of them than organ donation should be no different.

The second reason to compensate donors for their organs is that the establishment of a market through a respected and experienced donation organization would eliminate “transplant tourism” where people go abroad to get organs often under poor medical conditions and from coerced donors (Smith). Thus I argue that it is not only ridiculous to ban organ sale but that the failure to set up a regulated market is irresponsible as it allows a dangerous international black market for organs to flourish. People are aware of how valuable their organs are and they will try to sell them so it makes sense to turn the market into a legal and highly regulated one. The result will not only be a greater supply of organs but also organs of higher quality.

The final qualm about organ sale often comes from a moral or bioethical point of view (de Castro 142). By selling organs are we commodizing the body? We sell plasma, sperm and eggs and I do not think organs are any different. A much more pertinent question is that of the morality in letting thousands die every year because we do not offer the benefits needed to encourage live donors through a market system. It is time for that to change. I propose that we legalize the sale of organs so that donors and their families can be compensated for their donations. This practice will not only increase the valuable live donor count but also eliminate the current dangerous black market on organs and save thousands of lives.

Works Cited

Boulware, L. E., M. U. Troll, N. Y. Wang, and N. R. Powe. “Public Attitudes Toward Incentives for Organ Donation: A National Study of Different Racial/Ethnic and Income Groups.” American Journal of Transplantation 6.11 (2006): 2774-785. Print.

De Castro. “Commodification and exploitation: Arguments in Favour of Compensated Organ Donation.” Journal of Medical Ethics. 29.3 (2003): 142-146. Print.

Ghods, Ahad J and Shekoufeh Savaj. “Iranian Model of Paid and Regulated Living-Unrelated Kidney Donation.” Clinical Journal for the American Society of Nephrology 1.6 (2006): 1136-1145. Print.

Monti, Jennifer. “The Case for Compensating Live Organ Donors.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute. 23 April 2009. CEI.org. 3 Nov 2011.

Smith, Lewis. “Sale of Human Organs Should be Legalised, Say Surgeons.” The Independent 5 Jan. 2011. Independent.co.uk. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.

“The Need Is Real.” Register Today as an Organ Donor. Organdonor.gov. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.organdonor.gov/Default.asp>.

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