Organ transplant is an advancement of modern medicine where a patient’s failing organ is replaced by a healthy organ or tissue from an organ donor (Lipman, 2019). The main organs for transplant include lungs, kidneys, and pancreas. Kidneys are the most commonly required organs. Shockingly, the average waiting duration to get a kidney replacement is 2-3 years.
According to statistics, approximately 18 patients die daily waiting for organ replacement (Lipman, 2019). There has been a recent acceleration in demand for human organ transplantation due to the growing account of individuals requiring organ replacement. More than 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant (Lipman, 2019). Of this number, less than 15% only get an actual transplant. The rest die or become way too sick to receive one.
According to G. M. Abouna, these medical improvements and the consecutive public orders have caused a supply-demand challenge: more people need organ replacements than the amount readily available (Abouna, 2014). With the growing number of people dying due to the lack of organ transplants, the US government should design a system that makes organ sale and transplant legal and reliable for both organ donors and recipients.
The current organ transplant system in the US involves requesting permission from the government before selling or buying organs for transplant. I believe this system has a lot of loopholes and issues. Firstly, organ transplantation is challenging because of the time taken before the request is approved. Second and most importantly, organ donors get compensation of between $5,000 and $20,000, which I believe is underpayment (Lipman, 2019). After the transplant, the donor will miss up to five weeks of work. I think this is unfair because only the organ recipient benefits. For the poor, it is all about the money. But no one talks about this because the related parties (physicians, brokers, private hospitals) earn massive profits. Due to this, a robust global black-market trade has emerged to meet the relatively high organ demand (Peter, 2017). It is essential to mention that this black market has become an alternative place for donors to sell organs since they receive compensation of more than $100, 000 which is ten times more than what they’ll receive from the government-regulated system. WHO approximates that more than 15% of kidney transplants are obtained through the black market (Lipman, 2019). Another surprising fact that I uncovered is that this black market exists outside the US in the Philippines, China, and India. Even more reason why I say the government should legalize the sale of organs in the US. That way, the state or government can monitor it.
Moreover, this black market is associated with various ethical concerns, which will be fatal if not acted upon. The black market encourages human trafficking and organ harvesting. Human trafficking is the kidnapping and sale of human beings for slavery, sexual exploitation, or in this case, to harvest and sell their organs (Hall, 2015). Organ harvesting is the illegal harvesting of human organs for sale. An example is when China came under extensive international criticism for harvesting executed prisoners’ organs (Chapman, 2015). The black market exploits the weak and the poor. Due to these issues affecting the current organ transplant and donation system, I firmly believe legalizing the sale of organs in the US is the only viable solution. In addition, it will help save a lot of lives.
According to the article by Abigail Hall, more than 100,000 individuals in the US require a lifesaving transplant (Hall, 2015). If made legal plus the recent technological advancement, Abigail Hall argues organ sales can help more people live longer, healthier lives. It saves ill patients’ lives, but it also protects the lives of would-be donors (Jones, 2020). Moreover, organ transplantation incorporation with technology will increase the mortality rate in the country by decreasing the number of deaths. Moreover, a good compensation system will help improve organ donors’ living standards. Evidently, legalizing the sale of organs will help save millions. According to Sadie-Anne Jones, Iran is a good example where the implemented organ donation system regulated by the government acknowledged the sale of organs (especially kidneys) at a stated price , therefore minimizing the waiting list for kidney replacements (Jones, 2020). In addition, the donors get health coverage for more than a year after the operation and a discounted coverage after that year (Jones, 2020).
According to Abigail Hall, although the program was not efficient, if the US legalized and implemented the same program to sell organ/tissues and pay donors $50,000, it would stamp out the waiting list for organ transplant and save citizens over $10 billion annually (Hall, 2015). Moreover, Iran has also legalized organ donation from braindead patients. Following the footsteps of Iran, I believe the US can implement a better approach to solve this dilemma. After legalizing the sale of organs. It can start up numerous organ donation centers in every community and state to make the whole process easier, viable and also prevent people from traveling abroad for organ replacement (transplant tourism). The sale of organs has been legal in Iran since 1988. Though illegal exploitive sales have been made outside the state-standardized system, Iran has managed to minimize and curb many moral issues associated with the selling of organs (Jones, 2020). One moral point that Iran faces is the exploitation of the poor since only rich people can manage to buy the organ while the poor have no choice but to sell organs to get money.
Considerable breakthroughs have also been recorded in China on organ sales and transplantation in the past decades. Considered by many as the international transplantation “superpower,” China’s path to legalization highlights the dos and don’ts that the US government should consider. The lack of brain-dead policies has also made its citizens switch to donating organs after their relative dies. The program in China has led to an increase in the number of donors and subsequent donations. This goes a long way in curing or saving a lot of people. In China, a well-governed organ transplantation system also helped minimize what many people termed as the ‘unethical’ sale of organs from prisoners. However, The demerits of the system in China include human trafficking and exploitation of the poor.
However, the sale of organs has caught the attention of numerous countries and has been criticized by many denominations especially Christians. They denounce selling human organs and tissues because it damages the purpose of transplantation plus the moral, religious, and ethical values and beliefs of society (Abouna, 2014). Opposers of this debate also argue that selling organs should be illegal because it might lead to ‘organ harvesting’ and ‘human trafficking because the profit gains obtained from selling organs motivates many individuals to acquire them through violence (Peter, 2017). Moreover, poor individuals would be inclined to sell their organs, and these desperate people would do so without comprehending the ramifications of their decision (Lipman, 2019). Opposers of the sale of organs support their claims on the grounds that the sale of organs is “morally objectionable.” On the other hand, legalizing the sale of organs and tissues would possibly lead to a society where only the rich would be able to afford lifesaving organ transplants and the poor would be the main donors of those organs (Abouna, 2014). Therefore, developing an overly unequal and exploitive society where wealthy people buy organs from poor people. Abouna proves this by stating that over 2500 kidneys since 2001 have been sold annually in India to wealthy recipients from the Middle East, the far East, and Europe (Abouna, 2014). As a result, legalizing the sale of organs will only lead to a capitalist society where only upper-class people benefit, which creates an intensely exploitative and unequal system (Abbasi, 2018).
The merits and demerits of organ sale are difficult to measure. It is associated with a lot of issues where poor people are left at a disadvantage. Even so, it is also the solution to saving the lives of many patients. I think both sides of the argument have ethical dilemmas. But with the growing number of people dying from lack of organ transplants, there is a need for action. One hundred thousand people who require lifesaving transplants is not a small number. Moreover, there is no need to let over ten people die due to a lack of organ replacement. Keep in mind that the number keeps growing. There are a lot of lives involved hence the need for the US government to implement a system that makes organ sales and transplants legal and reliable for both organ donors and recipients. Plus, the sale of sperms, plasma, and bone marrows is legal, so why draw the line? To liberally quote Sadie-Anne Jones, if highly standardized, it is possible to have a program that stamps out the waiting list for organ transplants while also protecting donors from being oppressed (Jones, 2020). Iran and China are good examples. I believe the US can build off Iran and China’s groundwork. We can learn from their mistakes and struggles to minimize exploitation risks and sustain the supply of organs to curb the demand.
Answers to Reflection Questions
- I use source materials throughout my essay to support and prove my thesis. A good example is the introduction, where I introduce the phenomenon of organ sale and transplantation by mentioning that around eighteen people die every day from a lack of organ replacements. It gives facts and figures about the essay. It also enhances the report because it provides the reader with factual information on why it should be legal to sell organs.
- I believe a new point of view, or rather a new set of eyes, would help me make sure I produce a good draft. I think my essay is good but mentioning the blunt parts in my writing would help me revise this draft. I am confident in the facts and information provided in this essay.
Abbasi, M. (2018, March). Organ transplantation in Iran: current state and challenges. National Library of Medicine, 1-10. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5867571/
Abouna, G. M. (2014, June 25). The negative impact of trading in human organs on the development of transplantation. National Library of Medicine, pp. 1-5. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8516911/
Chapman, J. R. (2015, July). Organ transplantation in China. Transplantation, 1-5. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/transplantjournal/fulltext/2015/07000/Organ_Transplantation_in_China.7.aspx
Hall, A. (2015, December 14). Let People Sell Their Organs. Forbes, pp. 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2015/12/14/sell-organs/?sh=da91d5626e42
Jones, S.-A. (2020, December 16). A Legal Organ Market: Should it Exist? UAB Institute of Human Rights Blog, pp. 1-5. Retrieved from https://sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2020/12/16/a-legal-organ-market-should-it-exist/
Lipman, J. L. (2019, November 23). Should it be legal to sell your organs? Penn Undergraduate Law Journal, pp. 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.pulj.org/the-roundtable/should-it-be-legal-to-sell-your-organs
Peter, B. (2017). Legalizing the sale of Organs. UCCS College of Business, 1-5.