Should Donors Be Able to Sell Organs?
- 06-13-2006, 12:53 AM
Should Donors Be Able to Sell Organs?
Should Donors Be Able to Sell Organs?
Controversy Surrounds Debate Over Ways to Increase Organ Donors
By Todd Zwillich
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
on Monday, June 12, 2006
June 12, 2006 -- Should would-be donors be allowed to sell their organs for money as a way to ease growing waiting lists for transplants?
Some experts think so, and the idea is causing some controversy as policy makers struggle to find ways to cut the number of Americans now dying on transplant waiting lists.
U.S. law forbids any money from changing hands in exchange for an organ donation. The law, on the books since 1984, was seen as an important protection against the development of a market in human body parts.
But since then, the waiting list for organs has grown by leaps and bounds. More than 92,000 Americans are currently awaiting a donated kidney, liver, pancreas, or other organ, while in 2005, just more than 30,000 organs were transplanted nationwide, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
The disparity has some experts calling for new -- and sometimes radical -- ways of encouraging organ donation beyond the traditional altruism that legally must motivate all donations now.
"The current system is failing to meet the human needs of Americans, and you can tell it's failing to meet them because people are dying," says Newt Gingrich, a former Republican Speaker of the House and possible 2008 presidential candidate.
A regulated market in organs "is at least worth exploring," says Gingrich, who is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Experts have called for experimentation with a series of different incentives. Offers to cover funeral expenses could be used to entice people to sign up to donate organs when they die. The government could offer a tax deduction or a credit for those willing to donate. Or, most controversial, those in need of organs could be allowed to offer cash to potential donors.
In a report on organ donation issued last month the Institute of Medicine came down against even experimenting with a regulated market in organs.
Organ donation and distribution is currently controlled by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which strongly opposes financial payments or any other material incentives.
Francis Delmonico, MD, a transplant surgeon and the group's president, tells WebMD that the group supports efforts to encourage altruistic donations and supports expanding medical criteria governing who is currently eligible to donate.
"But I'm not ready for the solution that is just going to dismantle all of that," he says of calls for financial payments.
Supporters argue that the promise of money could motivate many people who otherwise wouldn't consider donation to offer their organs. Critics warn that such a system would favor the wealthy, who can afford to pay for organs, while putting undo pressure to donate on poorer people.
The federal government is currently leading a large review of the organ donation system, an attempt to find new ways to spur donations from living and dead donors and their families.
But American Enterprise Institute scholar Sally Satel, MD, warns that the public is no longer responding to traditional appeals for altruistic donation. Satel says she wishes she could just "write a check and get my organ" before she received a transplanted kidney donated by a friend in 2004.
"Increasing the number of organ donors means rethinking our reliance on altruism," she says.
SOURCES: Newt Gingrich, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute. United Network for Organ Sharing. Francis Delmonico, MD, president, UNOS. Organ Donation Opportunities for Action, Institute of Medicine, May 2, 2006. Sally Satel, MD, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute.
- 06-13-2006, 01:02 AM
I would like to say yes but the cynic in me says no because of the rampant abuse and the richer get it, end result.
As our lifestyles keep getting more and more unhealthy leading to more health problems the solution should be fixing the issue over selling more parts...Although, I do admit if it were my daughter needing a transplant my opinion would be completely different.
A very hard subject to deal with for damn sure.
- 06-13-2006, 01:05 AMBoard Sponsor
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I think there are some very serious inherent ethical issues that go along with the commodification of human body parts. The distinction between profit and medicine should be a clear one, unfortunately, it is not but I see no need to perpetuate the situation further.
06-13-2006, 01:06 AM
That's why I posted this....wanted to see people wrestle with the issue.
06-13-2006, 01:14 AM
Hhaha... here is what I see.
Crackhead: "so doc...are my kidneys healthy?"
Doc: "yes...why yes they are."
Creackhead: "woo hoo! we'll start the bidding at 100k!"
06-13-2006, 01:51 AM
hm.......personally id like the option of being able to buy one if i was desparate.........
i think that the selling of human organs should remain prohibited though. i could see it all getting nasty and political. no need to further complicate the world.
06-13-2006, 06:32 AM
They're mine and I should get a little chedda,
for making someone else feel a little betta!
Word to your MD.
06-13-2006, 09:45 AM
You have always been able to sell what is yours.
The difference is being able to bennifit from your "donation".
I do think that surgucial removal would need to be required to sell it to prevent,.... um,.. body snatching.
Honestly though, by the time we would ever come to an agreement (legally) we would have the ability to grow new organs from a biopsy of the organ needed. This ca nalready been done, I just mean on a large scale.
06-13-2006, 10:02 AM
XF makes the point that I was trying to get across. Betcha we'd start seeing more and more missing people at home and especially abroad.
06-13-2006, 10:45 AM
If it's yours, you should be able to sell it. If it's not yours and you try to sell or take it, you should be in jail. Apparently can be some serious problems for living donors, the dead ones, well who cares. I guess the funeral coverage isn't a bad enticement, I'd sign on for that. Cover the cost of burning me and spreading my ashes into the vinyl/rubber mix of a factory that makes female bicycle seats and you can have my kidneys.
06-13-2006, 12:02 PM
It would probably be a good idea for our government to put more of an interest in regeneration technologies. Why buy from a dealer when you can grow your own?Honestly though, by the time we would ever come to an agreement (legally) we would have the ability to grow new organs from a biopsy of the organ needed. This ca nalready been done, I just mean on a large scale.
06-13-2006, 09:58 PM
06-13-2006, 10:06 PM
06-13-2006, 11:00 PM
I agree, you should be able to sell your organs... however, I don't think this is a solution for the organ donor shortage that is rampant (especially for heart donors). I think other avenues of organ replacement show more promise in eliminating organ shortage. I am fascinated by the artificial hearts that AbioCor has created and the great success they are garnering during their clinical trials. Antigen-free porcine hearts are also becoming a frontrunner to eliminating the scarcity of new hearts and stem-cell work (which posses additional ethical questions) is an option, albeit a long way off.
06-14-2006, 06:46 PM
in the end, definately the rich will get it. i say no money can exchange hands. if regular joe's can't get an organ now, the chance of the regular joe getting it can only drop if an organ can be bought. it's not even the rich will get it, all you have to be is "rich-er". if the heat is really on, and like you said, if it's your daughters organ at stake, you would probably be willing to dish out half+ your networth.Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
course if this specifically happened to the individual, they would be thanking their lucky stars that organs can be bought.
06-15-2006, 01:02 PM
I am pretty much a die hard believer in personal freedoms, which would include the ability to sell your own organs.
06-15-2006, 03:19 PM
What if someone wants to sell his heart? Meaning, the sale would require his death.Originally Posted by Herris
06-15-2006, 03:28 PM
I'd wonder what would make him need money so bad that he'd be willing to give his own life.
He'd either be very noble and selfless or stupid. I say noble and selfless because if he were in his right mind than it must be to benefit someone other than himself since he wouldn't live through the ordeal.
If he were in his right mind I'd still say it was his own heart to sell.
06-15-2006, 03:31 PM
I'm imagining a scenario where the only way a father could get the money to pay for his child's chemotherapy, would be to sell off pieces of himself.Originally Posted by Herris
06-15-2006, 03:36 PM
I'd be for letting him do what he felt he needed to do. Depending on how determined he is he will do it whether it is legal or not.
06-15-2006, 04:35 PM
Well, not necessarily. Transplants are (usually) pretty sophisticated operations. A predicate condition would seem to be a society that accepts a resource allocation where such choices are part of the normal stream of commerce.Originally Posted by Herris
Last edited by yeahright; 06-15-2006 at 04:50 PM.
06-15-2006, 04:46 PM
If they're for sale the likelihood of finding one will increase, not decrease.Originally Posted by phasar
06-15-2006, 05:20 PM
nope. if they are for sale, the likelihood that there will be more organs available will increase- definately. Maybe even by a couple of hundred percent.Originally Posted by CDB
but if you are at the bottom of the list in terms of monetary worth, it would not help you. it may actually even hurt you.
06-15-2006, 07:37 PM
I'm sure that many of you have heard about the black market ring that was selling the body parts of people from morgues. These parts were sold to legit companies who in turn sold to hospitals.
Unfortunately my father was the recipient of one of these black market sales. The ****ing hospital that did the surgery will only pay for the doctors visits, but not any of the damn tests that he has to go through: AIDS/HIV, hepatitis, various STDs, etc, etc...sonsa*****es (that's one word here in FL).
If there were more donors there wouldn't be a need for this type of black market...I'm not sure this is the answer though.
06-15-2006, 07:59 PM
if i were on my deathbed in need of a liver transplant all of the politics would seem pretty meaningless to me. I am in need of liver, the goverment has laws in place that to not make it as easy to get one, period.
think of yourself as the person in need of the organ transplant, laws would seem pretty trivial. we are talking about peoples lives here.
if people want to give up parts of their body, for whatever reason, that is their choice. our government does not need to make these decisions for us.
06-15-2006, 08:00 PM
They tell you what you can put in, they tell you what you can take out.if people want to give up parts of their body, for whatever reason, that is their choice. our government does not need to make these decisions for us.
06-15-2006, 08:25 PM
Living donors is not such an easy issue. However, I see no issue with the following scenario: I die, I had a living will stated I give the right to my family member (friend or whomever) to sell my organs. When people "donate" their body to science, usually somebody is actually in turn going to sell it and make a profit. Why should the donor not be allowed to do this? Many people don't want their body messed with at all when they die, and we have too low of a donor rate in this country. I would believe more people would be inclined to get donor cards if it was viewed as an extra "life insurance policy." Their family will get some monetary amount to help them through upon the death.
Also, the very rich already get to the top of the line, nothing will change that. You are foolish if you think the waiting lists are completely fair. Having more donations added to the pool (whether they are directly for sale, or some other incentive was used to get people to donate upon their death). Perhaps even the increase in organs will bring down the total cost of the operations.... maybe not, but it should.
06-15-2006, 09:26 PM
Doubtful. All market commodities are scarce and when a market pricing system is allowed to exist it seems just about everyone who needs something can get it.Originally Posted by phasar
06-15-2006, 09:29 PM
Sorry to hear about that. Geeeeeeeez.Originally Posted by stxnas
06-15-2006, 09:30 PM
Interesting compromise.Originally Posted by tsc
06-15-2006, 09:36 PM
True, but then they do this to varying degrees all the time. Got cancer and want to try a risky treatment with some hope of a cure or extended life? Sorry, not approved yet. And should the treatment turn out to be effective everyone who died while waiting for approval was essentially robbed of their right to live, and is a cost of those restrictions. Same with organs. Being able to freely choose and to freely buy and sell are the only ways to increase the supply of something beyond compulsion. Even were a free market allowed in organs and the initial conditions allowed for pricing only the rich could afford, that profit is the very incentive that would move that market toward greater effeciency and the incentive for the development of alternatives such as cloned organs. Anytime the market is allowed to work it seems to deliver almost anything to anyone who needs or wants it, everytime the government takes over there are shortages and crisis and people getting screwed and even dying, yet some people still have trouble putting 2 and 2 together to get 4.Originally Posted by jomi822
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