Sell a kidney is the "radical" idea to save people who need kidney transplants, reports the Wall Street Journal. It's an interesting, if not very original, idea. It's also fairly easy to predict the consequences of allowing kidney sales because it's what already happens with sales of other, um, body parts and by-products:
- College students would have another income stream besides plasma donation, sperm donation, egg donation, biopsy donation (medical experiments), psychology experiments, etc. As it is, their youth, vitality, idealism, and ignorance get exploited to help the world.
- Poor people would sell kidneys to make money.
- The market would have more kidneys.
- Less sick people will die.
- More people will die when they get older and their own ill health kicks in and they only have one kidney.
- There will be a backlash.
- People will stop donating and/or selling kidneys.
This would be my position. One might object, but you don't have a kidney problem. True enough. But I worry about the exploitation of people and to me, that seems inevitable. The greater concern, and it's one seldom looked at, is the effect that creating an organ market will have on society as a whole. To me, it will make the moral boundaries even more ambiguous.
Among his opponents on the issue is a friend and colleague, Francis Delmonico. A Harvard University professor who has played a central role in shaping national transplant policy, the 62-year-old physician has several objections to organ sales. He fears such a system would attract the poor, vulnerable and unhealthy, and that altruistic donations might wither away.
"Payments eventually result in the exploitation of the individual," says Dr. Delmonico, who also worries about encouraging black-market sales both here and in developing countries. "It's the poor person who sells."
Selling organs will commoditize (if that's a word) life.