Need cash? Sell your kidney !
Right now, 75,863 men, women, and children need organ transplants. Approximately 23,000 will receive them this year. Fifteen people die every day for lack of a donor. For kidneys in particular, 44,349 people need a transplant, but only approximately 13,000 will get them.
- If money is the catalyst that relieves the shortage, and if the money/organ exchange is voluntary, then why prevent this transaction? Obviously, I want the money more than the kidney, and the sick person wants the kidney more than the money. This is mutually beneficial exchange.
- Many people protest by stating that this would give criminals an incentive to create a black market for organs. The reality that exists today is that there is a black market for organs and that there is potential for corruption by rationing organs with waiting lists. By legalizing the selling of organs, the supply of organs would increase, and their prices would drop.
- Beyond the criminals who profit, the hospital industry profits off the shortage, by being able to charge exhorbitant fees for a kidney transplant, while enjoying zero cost of obtaining that kidney from its original owner, due to legal restrictions. Hospitals who do not obtain the organ from one of their own patients do pay high fees to other hospitals and organizations that engage in networking these rare transplantable organs. The legal ban on organ selling really only applies to prohibiting the true owners of the organs from profiting from them. Instead, it seems like everyone but the real owner gets to make a buck off the transplant industry.
- It is ironic that womens right groups that complain about back alley abortions don’t seem to mind that those same back alley doctors make bigger profits in the organ trade because of the illegality of organ selling.
Study of case:
Economic and Health Consequences of Selling a Kidney in India
Context Many countries have a shortage of kidneys available for transplantation. Paying people to donate kidneys is often proposed or justified as a way to benefit recipients by increasing the supply of organs and to benefit donors by improving their economic status. However, whether individuals who sell their kidneys actually benefit from the sale is controversial.
Objective To determine the economic and health effects of selling a kidney.
Design, Setting, and Participants Cross-sectional survey conducted in February 2001 among 305 individuals who had sold a kidney in Chennai, India, an average of 6 years before the survey.
Main Outcome Measures Reasons for selling kidney, amount received from sale, how money was spent, change in economic status, change in health status, advice for others contemplating selling a kidney.
Results Ninety-six percent of participants sold their kidneys to pay off debts. The average amount received was $1070. Most of the money received was spent on debts, food, and clothing. Average family income declined by one third after nephrectomy (P<.001), and the number of participants living below the poverty line increased. Three fourths of participants were still in debt at the time of the survey. About 86% of participants reported a deterioration in their health status after nephrectomy. Seventy-nine percent would not recommend that others sell a kidney.
Conclusions Among paid donors in India, selling a kidney does not lead to a long-term economic benefit and may be associated with a decline in health. Physicians and policy makers should reexamine the value of using financial incentives to increase the supply of organs for transplantation.
Author Affiliations: Department of Internal Medicine, Geisinger Health System, State College, Pa (Dr Goyal); Department of Nephrology, University of California, San Diego (Dr Mehta); Departments of Family and Preventive Medicine and Medicine, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine (Dr Schneiderman); Division of Nephrology and Center for Health Care Research and Policy, MetroHealth Medical Center, and Departments of Medicine, Biomedical Ethics, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr Sehgal).
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