Published On: Thu, Aug 23rd, 2018

Should Congress Allow the Buying and Selling of Human Organs?

When people hear about buying or selling organs, they may think about the black market, human trafficking, or people selling their organs for debts. However, selling people for organs and people selling their own organs are two different things. The latter is not necessarily amoral; it can be good and life-saving. However, apart from debates on morality and ethics of selling or purchasing organs, there is also a legal controversy.

Heart and Lungs diagram Gray's anatomy

Heart and Lungs diagram from Gray’s anatomy/public domain

Currently, organs are provided to the patients as “gifts” from living donors and cadavers. A question arises whether the government should legalize the actual market where organs would be sold and bought for the same purposes. The proponents of this new reality face a number of issues.

First of all, it is important to avoid instances of unfair trade when the rich buy organs from the poor with all the attributed price injustice and acquisition problems. Correspondingly, there needs to be the third party, an intermediary that would regulate the process and make it fall within the boundaries of both law and ethics.

Second, there is an innate fear of being declared dead prematurely which stops people from signing donor cards. If this is the problem, then creating an organ market would not be a proper solution.

Third, there is a fear of the hastened death. In this respect, commercialization would only make these fears more reasonable. Moreover, commodification of bodies and organs and assigning a money value to an organ and its transfer threatens to ruin the system of social values such as altruism, charity, and the idea of helping others and saving life.

It is also unclear whether the market would solve the problem of organ scarcity or, on the contrary, shorten the number of donations without bringing up the amount of sales.

An alternative solution to making organ markets is the enhancement of the existing system of donations. First and foremost, a strong information and education campaign should be carried out in order to enlighten people on the aspects of the procedure as well as the stages which follow or precede it (e.g. explaining the irreversibility of brain death even when the body is artificially kept alive for the sake of keeping other organs alive). Families should be advised to discuss organ donations and consider the benefits.

However, sometimes, religion may stand on the way of a productive dialogue. Being an anti-religious act, organ transplants are often rejected both on behalf of possible donor families and possible candidate for a transplant. In this case, there is no effective strategy to overcome the social resistance to organ donations. Effective organ distribution is another issue which needs to be addressed. Privilege can be given either to the rich or the patients in a critical condition which are on the top of the list for an organ transplant. The former would be true for the system where organs are bought, and the latter is true for the current system of medicine based on organ donations.

Dr. Jayme Locke, MD (Assistant Professor, Surgery – Transplantation) and Dr. Mark Deierhoi, MD (Professor, Surgery – Transplantation) are performing 50th UAB Kidney Chain surgery in operating room, 2015.

Paying rewards for donations seems to be the golden mean between the two aforementioned approaches. In this case, both elements – moral sacredness of the action and the money given for the organ – serve well for preserving the social values and, at the same time, commercializing the process as an additional stimulus for making a donation. However, one should be careful, because the borderline between reward and payment is too obscure. As soon as this line is crossed, a donation becomes a purchase.

Thus, in regard to creating the market of organs, there is a reasonable concern that as soon as organ circulation turns from a donation to a purchase, the sacred nature of the process would be commercialized and turned into a commodity.

On the other hand, the ability and opportunity to legally buy an organ would mean a chance for someone’s survival in a situation when the standard system puts a person in the end of the waiting list. In regard to the system of organ donations, it holds on the principles of voluntarism, altruism, emotional and bloodline bonds, as well as available organs from living or dead donors. Research suggests that the additional stimulation techniques, such as information campaigns or rewards, can make it even more efficient.

Thus, any approach would work only in case if an effective and thought-through strategy is developed to level all possible concerns. As soon as such a methodology is developed for the organ market, it feels reasonable to legalize it. Until then, legalization is not recommended, because it can bring more harm than good.

Author: Regina Brand

I am a freelance writer at https://writer-elite.com/  I’m specialized in essay writing on different

topics. I like to experiment with different styles and genres. It may be a small high school essay or

research. In my free time I like to travel a lot discovering new areas and getting the inspiration to

work better.


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