Should Organ Donors be Paid for Donations

There seems to be a great debate in this country about whether or not donors should be paid for organ donations. I honestly did not know that this debate was going on before I started doing research on this subject. It seems crazy to think that the state legislator should get involved in the question whether people should be paid for organ donations.

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I have read a few articles about”the gift of life” and it all sounds ridiculous to me. I think that if an individual wants to sell one of their organs, and another individual needs to buy an organ, it should be their business. There should be no need for an ethical review of the transaction. I have read about people buying and selling far worse things legally than an organ that can save another person’s life.

People are already getting paid for donations of blood and plasma. Millions of people shuffle into one of thousands of blood banks each year to get compensated for life giving plasma and blood. How is getting paid for a kidney or liver any different. It is said that people are being abducted and wake up in another country in a tub full of ice, missing a kidney. These kinds of things happen when there is a shortage of a particular item. The rich people have the means to get this particular item. They will pay who ever they need to pay to get this particular item, even if it means doing it unethically. Especially if it would save their own life or the life of their loved ones.  If these rich people had the option to buy an organ, legally, they would not have to go to such extreme measures to survive. In 2005, United States transplant centres reported 6562 living donor kidney transplantations. This far exceeds the number of individuals waiting on the transplant list. Why is it hard to conceive that if people were compensated for donating there viable organs, this would close the gap between the supply and demand of these organs?

I believe that there needs to be clear legislation in place to regulate these transactions. This legislation needs to be geared toward protecting the donor from poor medical practices, and toward educating the donor about adverse reactions that may complicate the procedure. In other countries, there are limited studies that indicate the possible exploitation of these paid donors, who may get minimal benefit from their purported financial compensation(Becker 223). The National Kidney Foundation is strictly opposed to any kind of compensation for organ donations. On their website “Financial Incentives for Organ Donation.” The National Kidney Foundation, 12 Aug. 2014, www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/positionpaper03:

Offering direct or indirect economic benefits in exchange for organ donation is inconsistent with our values as a society. Any attempt to assign a monetary value to the human body, or body parts, either arbitrarily, or through market forces, diminishes human dignity. By treating the body as property, in the hope of increasing organ supply, we risk devaluating the very human life we seek to save. Providing any form of compensation for organs may be an affront to the thousands of donor families and living donors who have already made an altruistic gift of life and it could alienate Americans who are prepared to donate life-saving organs out of humanitarian concern. In addition, it disregards families who are unable to donate organs but do consent to tissue donation.

They believe that such payments would dehumanize our society. This might have been true fifty years ago when life was simpler and the lines between moral and immoral were clearly drawn. This day and age we as a society have become capitalist driven and every aspect of our life is governed by this fact. We sell blood, plasma, drug trials and even pregnancies. What makes organs so different from anything else that we buy and sell.

According to Cash for Kidneys: The Case for a Market for Organs There is a case proposing that individuals would include payment for organs that would be used after they die. Gary S. Becker and Julio J. Elias claim that this is important because “Transplants for heart and lungs and most liver transplants only use organs from the deceased. Under the new system individuals would sell their organs “forward” (that is for future use), with payment going to their heirs after their organs are harvested.” This is a compelling case for those waiting for one of these life saving transplants. According to the opposition this would be ineffective and immoral because it involves the sale of body parts. In my opinion I think that if individuals would have to pay for organs this may cause the cost of the actual transplant to go down to offset the cost of the organ. By doing this the doctors and surgeons would make less per surgery because, there would be more transplants to do with the increased availability of organs. In my experience if the supply of something goes up and the demand goes down, the outcome is that the cost would go down.

Altruism: the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. This is the word that the “gift of life” advocates use to argue their case against the sale of organs. I believe that the context of this word is poorly used in these cases. While, the act of giving an organ freely with no intrinsic transaction is noble. It does not make somebody less moral to receive compensation for the use of their organs. “It is lethally obvious that altruism is not a valid basis for transplant policy. If we keep thinking of organs as gifts, there will never be enough of them.” (Satel 226). I believe if we hold on to this “altruistic” belief there will never be enough organs. I argue that people work everyday in healthcare, social work and government service and get paid for these professions. This does not make these hard working, giving individuals less noble for the work that they do.

There are scientists working hard everyday to develop artificial organs for transplants. Are we going to make these products free when they are perfected and hit the market? Do we tell these scientists and manufacturing companies that must give the gift of life for these products. I do not think so. If we really want to make altruism the basis for services in the healthcare industry maybe we should make healthcare free for everyone across the board. In 2015, America’s total medical costs hit a new record of $3.4 trillion, according to the [Federal Government.] That’s about 18 percent of the country’s total GDP, meaning that one out of every six dollars we spent in 2016 went to health care. According to the Washington Post “Seven of the top 10 most profitable hospitals in the United States are nonprofit facilities that each netted more than $150 million from caring for patients in 2013, according to a study published Monday. … “All hospitals should make a little profit,” Bai said, “but some hospitals are obtaining outrageous profits.” This tells me that even non-profit companies in the healthcare industry are concerned with the bottom line. So my question is: Is the healthcare industry going to give up all that money in the spirit of altruism? Would it be so immoral to pay someone for the use of their organ or organs? My answer is no, giving up a kidney in any capacity would be the “gift of life” for any one of the thousands of people dying in line waiting for a transplant.

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