Why Selling Kidneys Should Be Legal

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    Dec 08, 2011 3:14 AM GMT
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/opinion/why-selling-kidneys-should-be-legal.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&wpisrc=nl_wonk

    More than 34,000 people joined the waiting list in 2010; fewer than 17,000 received one. Thousands of people die waiting each year.

    This is a tragedy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The people waiting for kidneys aren’t dying because of kidney failure; they’re dying because of our failure — without Congress’s misguided effort to ban organ sales, they would have been able to get the kidneys they desperately needed.

    It has been illegal to compensate kidney donors in any way since 1984. The fear behind the law — that a rich tycoon could take advantage of someone desperately poor and persuade that person to sell an organ for a pittance — is understandable. But the truth is that the victims of the current ban are disproportionately African-American and poor. When wealthy white people find their way onto the kidney waiting list, they are much more likely to get off it early by finding a donor among their friends and family (or, as Steve Jobs did for a liver transplant in 2009, by traveling to a region with a shorter list). Worst of all, the ban encourages an international black market, where desperate people do end up selling their organs, without protection, fair compensation or proper medical care.

    A well-regulated legal market for kidneys would not have any of these problems. It could ensure that donors were compensated fairly — most experts say somewhere in the ballpark of $50,000 would make sense. Only the government or a chosen nonprofit would be allowed to purchase the kidneys, and they would allocate them on the basis of need rather than wealth, the same way that posthumously donated organs are currently distributed. The kidneys would be paid for by whoever covers the patient, whether that is their insurance company or Medicare. Ideally, so many donors would come forward that no patient would be left on the waiting list.

    In the end, paying for kidneys could actually save the government money; taxpayers already foot the bill for dialysis for many patients through Medicare, and research has shown that transplants save more than $100,000 per patient, relative to dialysis.

    There’s no reason that paying for a kidney should be seen as predatory. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling legalizing compensation for bone marrow donors; we already allow paid plasma, sperm and egg donation, as well as payment for surrogate mothers. Contrary to early fears that paid surrogacy would exploit young, poor minority women, most surrogate mothers are married, middle class and white; the evidence suggests that, far from trying to “cash in,” they take pride in performing a service that brings others great happiness. And we regularly pay people to take socially beneficial but physically dangerous jobs — soldiers, police officers and firefighters all earn a living serving society while risking their lives — without worrying that they are taken advantage of. Compensated kidney donors should be no different.
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    Dec 08, 2011 3:22 AM GMT
    On the one hand, I agree with this generally. On the other, I wonder if a lung would be next.

    Beyond that, your hypocrisy never fails to amaze...
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    Dec 08, 2011 3:30 AM GMT
    Christian73 saidOn the one hand, I agree with this generally. On the other, I wonder if a lung would be next.

    Beyond that, your hypocrisy never fails to amaze...


    I wonder sometimes if you even understand the meaning to the words you use. I've been pretty consistent in my support of markets and my belief that markets do a far better job than governments in allocating supply and needs.
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    Dec 08, 2011 3:34 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidOn the one hand, I agree with this generally. On the other, I wonder if a lung would be next.

    Beyond that, your hypocrisy never fails to amaze...


    I wonder sometimes if you even understand the meaning to the words you use. I've been pretty consistent in my support of markets and my belief that markets do a far better job than governments in allocating supply and needs.


    Ummm. This wouldn't be a "market" as you extol them but a heavily regulated government program, which you vehemently oppose. Further, the examples from this article are exclusively government jobs, which you also hate the with the heat of a thousands white hot suns.

    What we're left to understand is that you as long as someone gets paid or makes a profit for someone else, you find the activity worthwhile. Otherwise, it's suspect or anathema to you. All of which is really quite sad.
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    Dec 08, 2011 3:42 AM GMT
    Christian73 said
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidOn the one hand, I agree with this generally. On the other, I wonder if a lung would be next.

    Beyond that, your hypocrisy never fails to amaze...


    I wonder sometimes if you even understand the meaning to the words you use. I've been pretty consistent in my support of markets and my belief that markets do a far better job than governments in allocating supply and needs.


    Ummm. This wouldn't be a "market" as you extol them but a heavily regulated government program, which you vehemently oppose. Further, the examples from this article are exclusively government jobs, which you also hate the with the heat of a thousands white hot suns.

    What we're left to understand is that you as long as someone gets paid or makes a profit for someone else, you find the activity worthwhile. Otherwise, it's suspect or anathema to you. All of which is really quite sad.


    You seem to think that I think that the options are always only binary. All markets are regulated in some way shape or form - given that property rights by their very nature are regulations. I would agree that it's far from ideal some of the proposed implementations but I would be for a transparent market which is far better than the system we have now in either the US or Canada where we have shortages of organ donors and depending on the pure virtue of others. Any implementation where the donors are allowed to be paid is a freer market than what exists now.
  • Suetonius

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    Dec 08, 2011 3:56 AM GMT
    Should it be legal to sell someone else's kidney? One could buy up kidneys in India or some such place cheaply, and then re-sell them. Could be a lucrative business and help out the struggling economy.
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:07 AM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 said
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidOn the one hand, I agree with this generally. On the other, I wonder if a lung would be next.

    Beyond that, your hypocrisy never fails to amaze...


    I wonder sometimes if you even understand the meaning to the words you use. I've been pretty consistent in my support of markets and my belief that markets do a far better job than governments in allocating supply and needs.


    Ummm. This wouldn't be a "market" as you extol them but a heavily regulated government program, which you vehemently oppose. Further, the examples from this article are exclusively government jobs, which you also hate the with the heat of a thousands white hot suns.

    What we're left to understand is that you as long as someone gets paid or makes a profit for someone else, you find the activity worthwhile. Otherwise, it's suspect or anathema to you. All of which is really quite sad.


    You seem to think that I think that the options are always only binary.


    I think you've confused me with the person you see in the mirror. You're the one who sees the world as binary: "job creators" and "parasites" etc. icon_lol.gif
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:23 AM GMT
    We already pay an arm and a leg for half the shit we have...might as well let one body part generate income.
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    Dec 08, 2011 4:37 AM GMT
    ...and once the criminal element gets involved, as there's money to be made, perhaps that internet myth about waking up in a bath of ice with a kidney missing will come true.


    I wonder what an insurance company would say to someone claiming benefits if the one remaining kidney goes bad.

    There's a reason why you have two. One is a lifelong compromise.

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    Dec 08, 2011 3:01 PM GMT
    Very stupid idea.

    Advertisers will have a field day with TV commercials and billboards. Lawyers will sue for body parts. And Republicans will see it as a way to cut social programs...I'm sure Newt or Rush will suggest that a large family can sell off enough blood, kidneys and eyes to buy a years worth of food and shelter.