What’s wrong with paying people in dire straits for their kidneys?
Dr. Sally Satel asks the question many consider taboo in the November 8 Wall Street Journal. In her op-ed, she argues for the compensation of organ donors in order to alleviate the worldwide shortage of kidneys, livers and lungs needed for transplantation. Herself the recipient of a donor kidney, she points to the tens of thousands who are waiting for organs in the United States, as well as the twelve patients who die every day because no donor kidney is available as justification for her position. Since a black market already exists for transplant organs, Satel argues, legalizing organ sales is a win-win proposition, especially for those facing financial hardships:
Were donor compensation legal, it might have been a good option for Donna Barbera of California. Last week, she wrote me asking how she could sell her kidney. She sent her phone number and blood type. “I do not find anything immoral about helping someone get a kidney and in return they help me out of a financial bind,” she said by email, noting that she faces foreclosure on her house. “I have a donor card on my license, so my intentions have always been to help. I just thought maybe someone could help me too.”
Revising NOTA [1984’s National Organ Transplant Act] would allow healthy people like Donna to save a life in exchange for bettering their own. As countries provide for their own needy patients, they will keep future clients from patronizing people like Levy Rosenbaum—and they’ll keep brokers from preying on the vulnerable.
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