Selling one’s body parts should be allowed

NEW YORK, (U-Wire) — Tremendous advances have been made in medical science and technology over the past century. Modern medicinal techniques and treatments have helped provide the best standards of living ever known to man. As resources for the improvement of human health are further developed, however, there is one whose supply remains stagnant and is in dire need.
Because of progress in the techniques and technology of organ transplantation and the rapidly aging population of the United States, there has been a tremendous growth in the demand for organs, especially over the past decade. In 1988, there were about 16,000 people on various waiting lists for organ transplants; currently, there are about 55,500. As many as 4,000 will die while waiting for an organ.
That the supply of organs does not come close to approaching the demand for them is one of most crucial medical public policy issues facing the United States today. Yet it is government policy that prevents an efficient solution to this crisis.
The United Network for Organ Sharing is the organization that handles organ allocation. Currently, the network is entirely dependent on donations. Unfortunately, the number of organs produced by this system is woefully inadequate. There is little incentive for individuals to donate; the federal government prohibits the buying or selling of organs and, as a result, the severe shortage of transplantable organs exists. If people were allowed to sell their organs, a powerful motivation would exist for organ donation.
In order to create a viable supply of organs, the government must repeal its prohibition on the buying and selling of organs so that a free trading market may evolve. If a price were being offered for organs, people might be much more willing to sell theirs. Once such a market is established, shortages will be nearly eliminated and the death rate of those waiting for organs will be significantly lowered.
With such incentives, supply might even outstrip demand, lowering the prices of organs to such a degree that transplants would become a standard medical procedure, not just the last resort surgery it is under the current system. With the Internet at their disposal, insurance companies, charities and hospitals will be able to provide the necessary framework for the organ market. Buyers will be able to contact donors and negotiate a mutually agreeable price.
Lives would be saved through the sale of organs, and at the lowest possible cost. Also, as more and more organ transplants take place, the demand for traditional substitutes for organ transplantation will decrease, lowering the price of those services until they too become readily affordable. For example, as the option of a kidney transplant becomes more realistic, fewer patients would use long-term dialysis, resulting in a lower price for the procedure.
Many might claim that only the rich could stand to benefit from such a plan. However, the incentive to provide organs will be great enough so that supply will match demand, which if not creating a low price for organs, will at the very least furnish an option to every individual in demand of one rather than leaving them to suffer on a waiting list. The poor will also benefit from the subsequent decrease in the costs of alternative treatments.
Another common criticism, this one founded on ethical grounds, is that human organs should not be turned into commodities. They say that market forces rather than altruism would drive the new organ transplant system. Critics must acknowledge the crisis that organ shortages present in this country; the current system is an abject failure, with demand for organ transplants growing rapidly and supply remaining static. A market for organs will solve this problem.
People should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies, including donating their organs.
The best way to solve the problem of organ shortages is to recognize the sovereignty of an individual over his or her body and repeal of the prohibition on the selling of one’s own organs.
Gabriel Movsesyan’s column originally appeared in Friday’s New York University paper, the Washington Square News.