Organ transplantation is a very controversial issue. Imagine using an organ from a person who just died and giving it to the person who is very ill. Is this possible? It is possible for a person to receive an organ from a person who just died. Some organs which could be transplanted are the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and heart. This is done to save the lives of so many healthy people except for an organ failure. Donors of these organs need not be dead because some organs may be taken from a donor’s body, and still, that donor can function well. Say, for example, a kidney may be taken from a live donor since a person may be able to survive with only one kidney (Grolier Encyclopedia).
Organ transplantation helps a lot of sick people as there are a considerable number of people who need a transplant. But should the government allow the selling of organs? With the increasing need for donors for organs that could be transplanted, should people be given a choice to sell their organs in exchange for money that could be of help to other people?
People are wise enough to choose what is best for them, and they know what could be the possible consequences if they sell their organs. Anyway, they will be informed of what are the possible consequences of selling their organs, and they have the choice to back out if they want to.
We could just imagine hundreds of people dying each year, even if there is a possible survival if they had an organ transplant; however, they were not given a chance to live because there was no available organ for transplant.
There are 48,639 people who are in need of kidneys while 17, 413 people need livers. Will these people wait until they die if the hospital can’t provide the organs they need?
I would say no, thus the government should make a move to legalize the donation of organs from live donors.
Organ transplant is the process of removing a usable organ from a person who just died or from a living donor to a person who is ill and is in need of that certain organ. This kind of process started on the year 1945 when Peter Brian Medawar and his colleagues showed that transplants and tissue grafts from another person would cause rejection from an immunological reaction to the foreign tissue, which was caused by the lymphoid organs such as the lymph nodes, spleen, and the bone marrow. They react to transplant the same as the way they react when they have been exposed to a virus. Due to this reaction, immunosuppressive drugs were needed to suppress the body’s immune system to the organs and tissues but at the same time not suppressing the body’s immune response to bacteria, viruses, and fungi. So in the mid-1950s, wherein the first immunosuppressive drugs were developed, kidney transplants were shown to succeed (Grolier Family Encyclopedia).
Since the 1960’s, organ transplants moved from experimentation to clinical therapy (Grolier Family Encyclopedia). Transplantation has been a practice since then. This is to help patients with one organ malfunction regain their health condition. A lot of transplants have been found effective, such as the heart transplant, heart-lung transplant, single-lung, liver, bone marrow, skin, and pancreas transplants has been possible through the development of surgical techniques.
Since these procedures have been made possible, many lives have also been saved.
Here are some terms that we need to know in order for us to understand organ transplantation better.
Organ transplant is the transfer of an organ, whether a part of a whole body to another, to replace the damaged organ of a recipient.
Organ donors are the living or deceased persons who allowed that their usable organs to be used by another living person who needs organ transplantation.
Immunosuppression is an act that would reduce the activation or efficacy of the immune system.
Immune System is made up of special cells that help a person defend himself from germs and microorganisms that invade his body.
One reason why organ donation is not allowed is that it would undermine voluntary organ donation (Shapiro).
Some claimed that allowing the sale of organs would further decrease the supply of the needed organs from voluntary donations. They would prefer to sell their organs rather than give them out for free for other’s benefit. To support their conclusion, they gave blood donation as an example. There were lots of blood donations prior to aloewing sale of blood. However, when it was allowed, the voluntary donations lessened, and paid donations increased (Shapiro).
With this kind of situation, the poor may not have access to free blood transfusion, and to connect it to organ transplantation, the poor may not be given a chance to undergo transplantation as there would have a decrease in supply of voluntarily donated organs from living donors. These people may die then waiting for an organ that is voluntarily donated, which may not come because donors would rather have it paid at higher prices. So what happens to the poor now?
The argument is about the organ live donor who has the choice to sell his organ to whoever needs it. There would also be a chance that even persons who are dying would wish to sell their organs and leave it to whomever they can leave it to. Or much worse the relatives of a person who just died would sell the organ of the person then it is making it more profitable to them.
Another fear of people if the selling of organs would be legalized is that people living in the rich countries might pay the poor in exchange for their organs (reason.com).
The argument presented is sensible however this is not quite the case if we look into a different perspective. There are 75,000 people on the waiting list waiting for donors. Now the question is, where would they find 75,000 voluntary donors to supply the need in order to save this number of people? Would we be thinking first of the people who might not get an organ transplant (if organs would be for sale)? How about if we think how many people are dying every day because of the shortage? We should put into consideration that there are 18 Americans who die every day because of the shortage of organs (Sheizer). How would the government answer to this problem?
A widespread shortage of transplantable organs are existing. The government does not allow selling organs. Why? So that people won’t get money out of their organs? Why not? Organizations procuring transplantable organs gets $25,000, surgeons and nurses profit as well for an operation costs as much as $300,000 which does not include follow up check-ups (Williams). So why would the government prohibit organ selling? Anyway, both the donor and the recipient would benefit anyway. Legalization of selling of organs might be the answer to its shortage. The poor may still benefit from the selling of organs. The money that they may receive from the recipient may help them start a new life. They would also know how to take care of themselves because they would be informed of the consequences of donating an organ.
Another thing is that people may as well take care of themselves if they know that their organs may be a part of what they can give to their family (Williams). Say for example, a person may consider stopping smoking while his lungs are still healthy because when he dies, his family may still be able to sell his lungs or his heart or his kidneys perhaps so that they would still have an additional money to start life when he dies. At least they would gain still have something from him even if he dies. Many people would take good care of their health then, but if the government would not allow selling organs, then that person might as well enjoy his life not thinking of taking care of his organs.
The government should see to this matter. There is a shortage already, people are dying everyday because of lacking donors. If they would allow organ selling, there could be a double effect, saving lives and helping the oppressed.
Another concern of the people is that there would be an exploit in the organ market. This would include exploiting the poor. They won’t be paid the right price for these organs or much worse, in exchange for drugs, organs would be sold (Murphy).
The brain dead or comatose patients who are poor may be forced to Euthanasia just for the doctors to get a viable organ for transplant (Murphy). The relatives of a brain dead person may opt for euthanasia so that they could sell the viable organ for them to have the money that they would need for their daily living. The person who is brain dead might be their breadwinner and if they would not sell his organ, they might not have something to eat for the next months.
Let’s take this for example, in the Philippines, trades of kidneys are widespread in the black market. The suppliers are people from slum areas, and the reason that they sell this is because they want to improve their way of living. So wealthy foreigners goes to the Philippines to avail of the cheap surgery and the cheaper procurement of transplantable organs in the country (Torralba).
There is also a call that every person must have an equal right to life, whether rich or poor. By allowing the sale of organs this would cause an imbalance because you are saving a life in exchange of endangering the other. It’s like saving the rich and putting the poor at risk. This would become unjust because of the unequal distribution of health benefits and burdens (Andre and Velasquez).
Organ transplantation is really an expensive procedure. Having the people pay for organs would just make it more expensive. This would increase the cost of the process and increasing costs for those who have insurance paying for the operation (Cline).
The primary reason why people would sell their organs is for the hope of alleviating their way of living. They want to have a big amount of money so that they would be able to start life all over. The money that they would get from the organ that they sell might be a big change in their lives. But is this ethical?
Actually, this would not be the issue. It would not be exploiting the poor because actually selling of organs would help them in money-making to start their lives over. If there are limited ways of earning money, then they would have an option to sell their organs for money (Murphy).
If a person would sell his organs to buy drugs well, it is a choice that person is making. Drug addicts may may have lower chances of selling their organs because it has been abused and distressed by the intake of drugs. If they could sell it, drug addicts may run out of organs to sell and might stop drug addiction because they would have no means of procuring drugs (Murphy).
People should be given the chance to decide for themselves. If it is their choice to sell their organs, then they should be given the right to sell it. Anyway it is theirs. If this is one way that the poor may be taken out from poverty, then they must be given the chance to do so (Murphy).
If its the choice of the poor to sell their organs, then it wouldn’t be an injustice. Let’s put the situation this way. This family with a healthy donor may want to sell his organ in exchange for money that may help him procure medicines for his daughter, who is very ill. The medicine that she needs is very expensive, and if her father can sell his kidney, he would have a supply of this medicine until she gets well and an extra for them to have a decent life. This would still be an equal privilege in the health benefit. The government would not be depriving this family a good life and the daughter’s chance to get well. This is a choice of a father who loves his family so much that he would do anything whatever it takes.
So what happens if the selling of organs would not be legalized? The poor people may not have that chance to start their lives over, and daily, people would die waiting for an organ donor, which the government deprived them of because of banning the sale of organs.
The poor may have slim chances of having the transplant since the procedure alone is very expensive. So how would selling of organs affect them? Even if organ selling is not legalized, was the poor on the priority list of the persons waiting for transplant?
People should be having the choice to donate their organs or not. One reason would be to meet the increasing demand of organ donors. Will we just allow the 75,000 people who are on the waiting list to die just because there was no donor for the said patient when in fact a lot of people are very willing to donate their own organs? So what if these people are selling their organs? The recipient would greatly benefit from it, the person who donated the organ would benefit as well.
Why won’t we see selling of organs in a different perspective? Say the donor has a family to raise. He has a child who is very sick and in need of medicines which the family cannot afford. The donor is healthy and very fit to be a kidney donor. The recipient is very sick who needs a transplant right away, and the donor’s tissues match the patient’s. So will we allow the child of the donor and the supposedly recipient to die just because selling of organs are prohibited? We could think about it as a double effect. So what would we choose, waste two lives which could someday help other lives or allow the donor to sell his organ to answer to his family’s needs?
We as citizens must be aware of this issue. Let us just think that if organ donation from live donors would be legalized, we could save more than half of those on the waiting list. These people could be a physician or a nurse or even a lawyer who could also in turn help other people. Let us think of saving lives. So we must know the benefits of organ transplants so that we could reflect how helpful it is in saving lives.
BBC News. Call to Allow Body Selling organ. Web.
Torralba, Raphael. Kidney Selling for poor Filipinos. 2008. Web.
Cline, Austin. Selling organs for Transplants.2008. Web.
Mayes, Gwen. Buying and Selling Organs for Transplantation in the United States. Web.
Ireland, Corydon. Ethicists, philosophers discuss the selling of human organs. Web.
Andre, Claire and Velasquez ,Manuel. Kidneys for Sale. Web.
Murphy, Stephanie.Eight Ethical Objections to an Organ Market… And Why They’re Wrong. 2005. Web.
Richards, Janet Radcliffe. Organs for Sale. 1996. Web.
Eisenberg, Daniel. Does Jewish law permit donating a kidney? What about selling one?. 2006. Web.