Organ Donation





Organ Donation

The sale of human organs is illegal across the world. There are many diseases that can be treated or even cured with organ transplants, but these donors need to be donated by willing donors. It is illegal to solicit organ donation using financial incentives for many reasons. There is a high demand for organs to be donated, but disproportionately fewer available donors. For example, in the United States, there are roughly 113 400 organs needed every day, but only 3,300 available donations. This situation creates a higher demand than supply, which promotes a market for organ sales. Many people who donate these organs are poor people, which means that financial incentives would encourage them to donate organs. To regulate the organ donation process, governments across the world have set up policies and laws on how donations are done. For example, most donors remain anonymous to avoid compensation. Parties such as transplant organizations match donors to recipients through an anonymous process. In other cases where donors find matches on their own, there must be proof that there are no incentives given to the donor. The sale of human organs should be illegal because it promotes human trafficking, black markets for organs, and it is also unethical.

Because of the high demand for human organs, legalizing the sale of the organs would encourage human trafficking. Many people who need organ transplants in developed countries travel to developing countries where the implementation of laws against organ sales is more relaxed. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 10000 kidneys are traded illegally from trafficked individuals every year (Caulfield et al 28). The main victims of human trafficking are poor and vulnerable populations that cannot protect themselves from traffickers. Although these numbers may seem few, examining them relative to wait times for organs gives a clearer picture. For example, waiting for a kidney in Canada can take any time between 4 to seven years. Waiting time in the United States averages 3.6 years. This dire situation encourages trafficking of organ donors from developing countries so that their organs can be harvested forcefully. The sale of human organs should be illegal because it puts vulnerable populations at risk of trafficking. Traffickers use various tactics to lure victims such as promises of employment and financial rewards.

The second reason why the sale of human organs should not be legal is that it encourages the creation of a black market for organs. Under laws that prohibit the sale of human organs, recipients have to rely on national transplant lists run by government organizations. If the sale of human organs were to be legalized, a black market for the organs would be created to meet the high demand for organs. Dealers in such organs would find organs through unscrupulous means, and they would find many desperate buyers. In such a market, organs would go to the highest bidder. According to Global Financial Integrity, the black market for human organs generates revenues of up to $1.7 billion annually, but the figures are likely to be much higher (Scheper 117). Faced with the prospect of high returns, organ dealers will have even more incentives to procure organs illegally. Legalizing the sale of human organs would allow these dealers to procure organs and sell them for very high prices.

Crime rates and exploitation of vulnerable people is another reason why the sale of human organs should not be legal. Kidnappings and murders would increase exponentially with the legalization of the sale of human organs. Some organs such as the heart and lungs are in high demand but can only be donated by recently deceased individuals. For this reason, it is challenging to find donors for these organs, and legalizing their sale would encourage illegal harvesting (Cohen 37). It is impossible to harvest a human heart without killing the owner, and such harvest would lead to many murders. Additionally, many vulnerable people would fall victim to forced abductions so that their organs can be harvested. Most donors come from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, and legalizing the sale of human organs would affect such populations disproportionately. Legalizing the sale of organs would offer financial incentives to poor people who need money for various reasons. Corrupt brokers, hospitals and physicians would take advantage of such people and exploit them. These corrupt parties pocket huge profits from the sale of organs while the donors are left with little money. Most of these donors are also gullible and illiterate; thus, they are more susceptible to deception. Those who do not understand the laws and donor contracts can easily be taken advantage of. Legalizing the sale of human organs thus paves the way for exploitation of vulnerable populations, and such situations should be avoided at all costs.

Selling human organs is unethical as it promotes the commercialization of vital organs. Renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant opposed the commercialization of human organs, explaining that people should always act in a manner to promote human dignity. Various ethicists and philosophers convened at a meeting organized by Harvard University to examine the ethics of selling human organs. The main ethical objection brought forward by philosopher Samuel Kerstein is that legalizing the sale of human organs robs donors, especially poor ones of their human dignity (Caulfield 42). This step labels human donors as tools that can be exploited at the right price and denies the inherent worth of a human being. No amount of money can be measured in value to a human organ; thus, the sale of such organs is unethical. Another reason why the sale of human organs should not be permitted ethically is that it inflicts physical and psychological harm on donors. For example, if a person is kidnapped and forced to donate their organs, the whole process could bring serious psychological damage to the person. Additionally, some donors may suffer physical damage as a result of their donations, such as infections from surgery. In case of future health problems, organ donations may prove detrimental to donors. An example of this is a person who donates a kidney, then later suffers from problems in their remaining kidneys.

Those in support of legalizing the sale of human organs argue that it would save many lives. Many people in dire need or organs die every day because they cannot access the organs that they need. In many countries like the United States, donors have to opt in for organ donation, which is a deterrent for many. Donors also have to prove that they do not receive any compensation for the organs they donate. The process of becoming an organ donor may be daunting for potential donors, and they end up not donating at all at the cost of thousands of lives each year. Legalizing the sale of human organs would be a great incentive for many donors as they would see that the process also benefits them (Calandrillo 69). People should be allowed to sell their organs legally because every person owns their body, and they can do whatever they want with their organs. If a person can safely donate their organs and live without them, then they might as well benefit from such a sale.

Another reason why the sale of human organs should be legal is that some other products of the human body such as semen, sperm and eggs are already legal; therefore there should be no discrimination on what a person can and cannot sell. An article appearing on CNN’s website explores the issue of financial compensation for bone marrow tissue. At the end of 2011, a US court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made it legal for donors to receive payments for their bone marrow tissue, for 3,000 USD (Parker 1). Plaintiffs in the case argued that such financial incentives would increase the supply of life-saving tissue and save the lives of many patients who die needlessly each year. However, this ruling came with some provisions attached. For example, the bone marrow tissue must be extracted through a process called peripheral apheresis, where doctors harvest tissue from the blood rather than from the bone itself. This provision allows for the bone marrow tissue to be treated as fluid, which is legal to sell. This ruling shows that the country should take a similar path when it comes to other organs so that many more lives can be saved.

After examining both sides of the argument, it is clear that the sale of human organs should remain illegal. Legalizing such sales brings many problems and ethical concerns which mostly affect vulnerable donors. Governments should take charge of the organ donation process to maintain human dignity and promote transparency. Government regulation also keeps patients safe because all organs are screened and certified as safe for donation. Donor rights should also be protected as some unscrupulous parties can take advantage of vulnerable donors for their own benefit. Although financial incentives could increase the supply of valuable organs, the potential risks are far greater than the benefits and therefore, it should remain illegal. People should be encouraged to donate organs out of altruism rather than any financial benefits.

Works Cited

Calandrillo, Steve P. “Cash for Kidneys-Utilizing Incentives to End America’s Organ Shortage.” Geo. Mason L. Rev. 13 (2004): 69.

Caulfield, Timothy, et al. “Trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal and the ethical and legal obligations of healthcare providers.” Transplantation direct 2.2 (2016).

Cohen, I. Glenn. “Can the government ban organ sale? Recent court challenges and the future of US law on selling human organs and other tissue.” American Journal of Transplantation 12.8 (2012): 1983-1987.

Park, Alice. “Should people be allowed to sell their organs?” CNN. 28 August 2012., Nancy. “Illegal organ trade: Global justice and the traffic in human organs.” Living donor organ transplants (2008): 106-21.