Press enter or return to search.

Opinion & Editorial

Organ Shortage has Simple Solution: Legalization

Currently, 123,000 people are waiting for organ donations in the United States with only 29,000 organs donated in 2013. On average, 18 people die each day waiting for organ transplants. And according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, that gap continues to widen. The general public is so under-informed about these facts that only 30% of Americans know how to donate. (Only 14,000 Americans actually donated in 2013.) This drastic shortage affects all genders, ages, and ethnicities. The current system is not working. But there is a simple solution: legalize the sale of organs.

Legalization of organs in  the United States via a market-based approach to organ sales would incentivize the trade of organs, increasing supply and saving lives. It would decrease waiting list times, help medical research, and reduce the number of highly dangerous black market transactions.

Pay people  for their organs, and more citizens would be willing to sell them. This could lead to an increase in  supply and an eventual drop in cost.  Many protest the legalization of organs sales because of instinct. Selling parts of oneself seems intuitively wrong. Yet this argument holds no logical or moral ground. A person’s body is his or her own possession, to do with as he or she pleases. If people can save  lives through the sales of organs–and they are fit and willing–then the humane argument is for legalization of the organ trade.

Others argue that legalizing the organ trade would exploit the poor, especially in third world countries. Most of the current black market trade in organs flows from poorer third world countries to richer first world ones.

This argument too does not add up. The poor in third world countries have high rates of maternal mortality. Organ transplants carry less risk than pregnancy. It follows that legalization of organ sales is no more dangerous than the hazards of pregnancy that are common in these same places.

Legalizing the sale of organs would help to eliminate black market sales. A highly lucrative trade has emerged that involves large-scale crime syndicates, which kidnap individuals and harvest their organs using unsafe methods, causing damages to both the victim and the buyer, because the organs are improperly cared for and transplanted.

By effectively regulating the market, the government can ensure a safe and fair process, one that meets medical standards. Sellers could be checked for prior medical issues and compatibility. If only 0.0005% of Americans separated with one of their kidneys, the United States would have no waiting list.

In the end, lives are the most important. Legalizing the organ trade can help save thousands in the US alone. Failing to legalize the trade is exacerbating the current situation and leading to premature deaths. It takes an average of 4.5 years to obtain a kidney. The process costs $350,000.

Iran has legalized the organ trade.Waiting lists were eliminated. Kidneys cost $2,000-$4,000. And the program has existed for 20 years. You do the math.

Written by  Alex LiChen’16


Comments are closed.