Besides the obvious problems that would come from allowing the private sales of kidneys worldwide and the nefarious practices that would surely accompany the decision, there would certainly be a number of people benefited by a change in the world’s view on voluntary organ sales. It nearly goes without saying that in a world that still has millions of “slaves” its not difficult to see the unscrupulous or those that prey on the weak, harvesting organs from the week.

Kidney donors

Kidney donation

That said, it’s your kidney, why shouldn’t you be able to sell something that is technically yours? How is it terribly different than when parents have a second child for the sole reason of providing a kidney, bone marrow, etc. to a sibling that was born first and will ultimately need it? How is it different than a woman who can earn six figures renting out her womb as a surrogate? And what better way to pay down some credit card debt than the windfall that could potentially come from selling something you may never need? Certainly some of that credit card debt was accrued purchasing things that one definitely doesn’t need.

Shortage of organ donors

In a new analysis by Canadian researchers, I don’t seem to be alone on this one:

“We have a problem. We don’t have enough organ donors coming forward,” said Dr. Braden Manns, an associate professor and clinical professor in nephrology at the University of Calgary.

“We need to figure out a way to solve that problem. We shouldn’t throw out, out of hand, solutions that could increase donations.”

As with all intelligent arguments there is a flip-side; one that kidney experts (is that a real thing?) are quick to point out when asked.

Paid donations

“Sometimes these things have unintended consequences,” said Dr. Stephen Pastan, a board member for the National Kidney Foundation and a transplant surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. “If we paid $10,000, a lot of altruistic donors would say that it’s just a cash transaction. Donations could go down.”

Outside of Iran, paid kidney donations are effectively illegal. That will certainly remain the case for some time if for no other reason than….who wants to emulate Iran?

The recent study certainly shows the benefits and the failings of what a flat $10,000 would do for those that need a kidney and those that could use the money. And it certainly brings up a number of ethical concerns. Further details on the study are available here.