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Organ markets

Mark Easley | Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of people across the world need an organ transplant right now. They live with the fact that if they don’t get that organ in time, they are going to die a premature death. That is the longest wait anyone can undertake, and especially painful for family and friends if things don’t work out. The system we have is wrong and there is no reason it shouldn’t be fixed by solutions that have been tried and tested. Now I’m not against anyone donating their own organs to save another person’s life, it is a noble and selfless act, but we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t recognize that money talks. Why can’t I sell my kidney to somebody that needs it? Why can’t my family benefit from the organs I give up after I die?

There is a stigma out there about giving a part of yourself for free. I have no problem with it, especially if I have already passed on, but my parents have made it clear to me that they don’t want me to be an organ donor. There is misinformation about the process, and no reward to soften steely hearts of loved ones. Having a market where it is legal to trade organs can make the process easy, open, and natural. We have the technology and processes to implement such an idea, but our lack of action has created an organ shortage that has wrought misery to those who need immediate help.

Currently the only country that allows legal organ trade is Iran, which has no waiting list for organs. As the United States of America, we can set the example for doing organ trade the right way. We can use regulation to ensure dignity and integrity to all parties involved, create oversight to ensure correct donor matches and safe organ transportation, and avoid exploitation of the poor and disabled. The best part is nothing really has to change. If you don’t want to donate or sell, feel free to keep what your mother gave you.

Time and time again markets have created efficiencies where it is needed most. There is already a thriving international black market that is profiting off those that are desperate for help. Illegal procedures are very expensive and dangerous, which is why we need to start a legal system so people can get the help they need. Everyone says you can’t put a price on a life, but if we don’t set some kind of bar, we will continue to let our neighbors and friends die for lack of available organs.

Mark Easley
Keenan Hall
March 15