Why Organ Sales Should Be Legal

The Problem

The shortage of donor organ supply is a persistent global public health problem. In this case, the demand for body parts used for transplants usually surpasses the supply in the market. Recent statistics show that 106,504 candidates are on the waiting list for various organs in the United States alone (Department of Health and Human Services, 2022). Still, every 9 minutes, a candidate is added to the national transplant waiting list, and on average, 17 patients die every day due to a shortage of organ transplants (American Transplant Foundation, 2022). Despite these alarming statistics, a legal barrier still exists, limiting access to life-saving transplants.

The state regulations that prohibit this trade are the leading cause of organ shortage worldwide. According to National Organ Transplant Act, it is unlawful to intentionally transfer organs for any valuable price because human parts are not commodities for sale (“42 U.S.C. § 274- U.S. Code “). There are many valid reasons why many people hold the position that organs should only be acquired through donations. Nevertheless, there is also compelling evidence as to why the selling and purchasing of these life-saving organs should be a lawful exercise. For instance, the legal body parts available for transplant only satisfy about 10% of the world’s organ transplant demand (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2018). This might explain why thousands of patients succumb to their illnesses every year while waiting for a renal transplant. In other cases, the medical diagnoses often show other patients already too sick to undergo surgical operations when they find donors. Therefore, these challenges prove that organ sale is the best way to save lives.

Those with the Power to Solve This Problem

In many nations, the sale of organs is illegal under state law. Establishing a strictly regulated paid organ market can help ease the international demand for body parts. Therefore, governments around the globe have the power to pass pieces of legislation to solve this problem. These regulations may range from what constitutes informed consent for organ sales because this can eliminate heinous forms of abuse and manipulation of organ donors from developing countries. In addition, under the new laws, only the institute, such as the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States, may have the authority to purchase and allocate the organs.

Why the Problem Has Not Been Solved

The lack of willingness to enforce the new laws is why this problem has not been solved yet. While a regulation that disallows organ sales exists, governments usually make little effort to curb illegal trade (Martin et al., 2019). A study shows that a country like the United States remains the top beneficiary of trafficked organs (Meshelemiah & Lynch, 2019). Illegal organ sales often seem beneficial to both the donors and recipients, though, in reality, it is far from it. This is why various international declarations oppose organ trafficking and transplant tourism (Steering Committee of the Istanbul Summit, 2018). Thus, governments should not be reluctant to legalize organ sales but help make the market effective. At the very least, legalizing organ trade will help reduce the ever-increasing transplant list and provide monetary benefits to an already existing industry.

Why This Is a Problem That Needs Solving

Not legalizing the sale of kidneys and other body parts is unfavorable. Patients who need such life-saving organs and tissues cannot depend on altruism alone. The long waiting lists due to few donors put families in emotional pain, and at stake are the lives of their sick relatives who are likely to die before a suitable donor can be found. The situation makes people desperate and drives them into illegal trade, such as organ trafficking and transplant tourism (Broumand & Saidi, 2017). In this case, the laws prohibiting organ trade not only contribute to the loss of lives but also incentivize individuals to opt for a medically unprecedented and unregulated black market. This is because the waiting lists get longer every year, encouraging international crime syndicates to take advantage of the situation and make huge profits. Another concern of this unregulated market is that brokers often prey on the desperation of the recipients and donors willing to buy and sell their organs at a price. However, the outcomes are often damaging for those involved due to the high risks associated with the illegal organ market.

The deficit of organs should be a major concern for the international community. This is because as long as the shortage persists, this can continue to elicit illegal sale operations. Organized crime networks are likely to use this opportunity to exploit organ donors and receivers. People who usually trade their organs for money are from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Gonzalez et al., 2020). Individuals who seek to pay their accumulated debts or escape poverty. However, since the unlicensed brokers are often profit-driven, the outcomes for both the donor and recipients are often consequential since the dealers are not concerned for their health and safety.

The Solution to Help Alleviate the Problem

The solution to this issue is to permit the legal sale of organs. This will enable patients searching for bone marrow, kidney, cornea, or part of a liver to have the opportunity to pay willing donors for the organs. In this case, a regulated system of living donors will strictly control organ sales and eliminate other avoidable harm. This may involve regulated payment made by the relevant government agencies, complete donor evaluation, and allocation of organs through predefined standards to give all those candidates on the waiting list equal opportunity for transplant. Legalizing organ sales will allow donors to receive proper treatment and long-term follow-up and be handled with respect and dignity for providing a life-saving gift. A report shows that Iran is one of the countries which have legalized organ sales. Although the country’s system is not perfect, it gives patients in need of organs to easily access them through official means (Kiani et al., 2018). This also helps limit the exploitation of the underprivileged, which is common in nations like the Philippines, India, and Pakistan.

Justification and Reasons Why the Audience Should Accept This Proposal

Some people are opposed to legalizing the trade because it may contribute to organ harvesting. They believe that this would increase abduction cases and make victims murdered for their organs. This view, nevertheless, disregards the notion that every trade is subject to certain rules and regulations. In this case, making organ sales lawful would not make it legitimate for people to obtain one forcefully. In addition, the unethical harvesting of vital body parts is what is being witnessed today (Ambagtsheer & Van Balen, 2019). This is because donors, especially from developing countries, live below the poverty line; money is the motivating factor behind organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Since organ sale is prohibited, the created shortage can influence many individuals to obtain them through violence. However, if these body parts are readily available through legal channels, this will reduce the demand gap in the market and the pressure of accessing a life-saving transplant (Naumovich, 2020). What countries stand to gain from this is the increase in organ supply, which can cripple the emergence of unauthorized brokers who control the illegal trade and share the maximum profit.

Just like the existing laws that allow for compensation for egg donation, participation in medical trials, and pregnancy surrogacy, organ trade cannot constitute an unethical medical or social practice. In the same way, a deceased patient can promote over 75 lives through tissue contribution and save up to eight lives through organ donation, living donors can also save more people (American Transplant Foundation, 2022). In 2014 alone, over 4,760 people died while waiting for a kidney transplant. The medical diagnoses also found that 3,668 patients were too sick to undergo a kidney operation (National Kidney Foundation, 2022). The point here is that legalizing organ trade will help save lives or partially reduce the scarcity of organ supply. If altruism has failed to supply enough organs, an ethically acceptable market should be created for individuals willing to trade. Organ sales may be defensible since this can help save patients’ lives.

Costs and Benefits

Legalizing organ sales is the key to eradicating shortage and unethical practices that are currently predominant. When such illegal systems exist, living donors are rarely awarded the exact amount of money they were promised, if they get any payment at all (Ambagtsheer, 2021). In other scenarios, the post-operational medical expenses for the donor selling the organs in the black market add to their previous debt and worsen their financial situation. However, though insurance companies are currently legally paying for the direct costs related to organ donation, legitimizing organ sales will assist such people in covering their long-term medical costs (Levy, 2018). For example, under Iran’s system, donors and recipients can sell and purchase kidneys at a fixed cost of $4,600 (Bengali & Mostaghim, 2017). While unethical and unregulated organ trade has been eliminated, the government has also prevented many problems from trading organs in the black market.

Legalizing organ sales has various benefits for people and governments. First, when donors from developing countries sell their organs in the existing system, they do it on the black market. Therefore, if the sale is authorized and the transaction does not go as expected, the donors will have legal recourse and will more likely receive proper medical care before, during, or after the operation. Secondly, the legalization of organ sales will also create a system that does not allow botched operations to occur and infected organs to be transplanted into patients. This may help eradicate medical costs resulting from these procedures (Caulfield et al., 2020). Thirdly, regulated organ sales will enhance equality in the allocation of organs through predefined criteria and present every candidate with the same opportunity for transplant. A report from Iran shows that while most organs sold in the country are sourced from people from lower socioeconomic settings, every patient, despite their economic status, can have equal access to transplants (Jones, 2020). This is also facilitated by financial support from charitable groups.

In conclusion, organ sales should be legalized because it will save more patients and eliminate the illegal market. In this case, the sellers would be adequately compensated for their donations, and the risk to the buyers’ health will also be minimized. This is because organ donors would be tested for H.I.V. and other infections. Thus, governments should not be reluctant to legalize organ sales; instead, they should help make the process effective. At the very least, legalizing organ trade will help reduce the ever-increasing transplant list and provide monetary benefits to those involved.

References

42 U.S.C. § 274e – U.S. Code – Unannotated title 42. The public health and welfare § 274e. Prohibition of organ purchases. FindLaw. Web.

Ambagtsheer, F. (2021). Understanding the challenges to investigating and prosecuting organ trafficking: A comparative analysis of two cases. Trends in Organized Crime. 1-28. Web.

Ambagtsheer, F., & Van Balen, L. (2019). ‘I’m not Sherlock Holmes’: Suspicions, secrecy, and silence of transplant professionals in the human organ trade. European Journal of Criminology, 17(6), 764-783. Web.

American Transplant Foundation. (2022). Facts and myths about organ donation. Web.

Bengali, S. & Mostaghim, R. (2017). ‘Kidney for sale’: Iran has a legal market for the organs, but the system doesn’t always work. The New York Times. Web.

Broumand, B. & Saidi, R. (2017). New definition of transplant tourism. International Journal of Organ Transplant Medicine, 8(1), 49-51. Web.

Caulfield, T., Murdoch, B., Sapir-Pichhadze, R., & Keown, P. (2020). Policy challenges for organ allocation in an era of “precision medicine.” Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease, 7, 1-7. Web.

Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Data. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Gonzalez, J., Garijo, I., & Sanchez, A. (2020). Organ trafficking and migration: A bibliometric analysis of an untold story. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(9), 1-11. Web.

Jones, S.A. (2020). A legal organ market: Should it exist? UAB Institute for Human Rights. Web.

Kiani, M., Abbasi, M., Ahmadi, M., & Salehi, B. (2018). Organ transplantation in Iran; current state and challenges with a view on ethical consideration. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 7(3), 1-16. Web.

Levy M. (2018). State incentives to promote organ donation: Honoring the principles of reciprocity and solidarity inherent in the gift relationship. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 5(2), 398–435. Web.

Martin, D., Van Assche, K., Domínguez-Gil, B., López-Fraga, M., García Gallont, R., Muller, E., & Capron, A. (2019). Strengthening global efforts to combat organ trafficking and transplant tourism: Implications of the 2018 edition of the declaration of Istanbul. Transplantation Direct, 5(3), e433. Web.

Meshelemiah, J.C.A., & Lynch, R.E. (2019).The cause and consequence of human trafficking: Human rights violations. The Ohio State University Pressbook.

National Kidney Foundation. (2022). Organ donation and transplantation statistics. Web.

Naumovich, C. (2020). Addressing transplant tourism problems and proposed solutions: Regulation instead of prohibition. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 27(2), 409-429. Web.

Steering Committee of the Istanbul Summit. (2018). The declaration of Istanbul on organ trafficking and transplant tourism. Declaration of Istanbul Organization.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2018). Global report on trafficking in persons. United Nations.

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LawBirdie. 2023. "Why Organ Sales Should Be Legal." March 24, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/why-organ-sales-should-be-legal/.

1. LawBirdie. "Why Organ Sales Should Be Legal." March 24, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/why-organ-sales-should-be-legal/.


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LawBirdie. "Why Organ Sales Should Be Legal." March 24, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/why-organ-sales-should-be-legal/.