Reader Poll: “Do people have the right to sell a body part if they so choose?”

Reader Poll: “Do people have the right to sell a body part if they so choose?”

Here’s the question we asked UFI readers:

“Do people have the right to sell a body part if they so choose?”

Here’s how they responded:

22 Percent           “Yes “

57 Percent           “No”

21 Percent           “Not sure”

 This appears to be one of those questions that has caused a fairly large difference of opinion among our readers (usually the response is more unanimous one way or the other).  We asked this question because of a recent article discussing a flourishing European black market for organs.

“Vulnerable, desperately poor people are seeking to sell their kidneys, lungs, bone marrow or corneas, abetted by the Internet, unscrupulous organ traffickers and a global shortage of organs for transplantation,” states the news story.

Should people be allowed to, in effect, cannibalize their own bodies to pay the bills or even to take a better vacation next year?  Where does the notion of  “individual freedom” factor into this?  There are some who make the persuasive case that:

  • The illegality of the organ trade business forces it underground and allows the criminal element to exploit the most vulnerable.
  • There are already “many people who profit from transplants, including doctors, nurses, health care administrators, manufacturers of medical equipment, and so on.  The only party not allowed to profit is the one who endures the greatest pain and risk:  the organ donor.”
  • There are many risky professions (professional fisherman, drilling rig operators, fireman, etc.) Yet there isn’t a ban on those folks risking life and limb to make money.

Because of the global shortage of organs available for transplant, many people die that otherwise might have been helped.  Is there not something a foot here where both parties might win for minimal risk on the part of the donor?  Or is this just another way that the poor are being exploited?

We at UFI have to admit that this is a thorny issue that will require much more reflection and study; thus we find ourselves in the “not sure” category.  What do you think?


1 Comment
  • Robert F Hickey, Ph.D.
    Posted at 10:18h, 11 July

    There is a myth in the US that organ for transplantation are not being sold. In fact, there is a government granted monopoly to sell organs. The 58 Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) across the country are supposed to be non-profit! Cumulatively, they make $2.5/yr from ORGAN PROCUREMENT FEES! (OPF) The average for a kidney is $45,000.00. The managers of these so-called non-profits have become millionaires. Salaries and bonuses of $600,000.00 annually are not unusual.

    An open and transparent market for human organs for transplantation will reduce the cost of transplants and eliminate the National Waiting List within 5 years. The OPOs do not want this to happen because they lose billions!!!

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