Organ Sales Will Save Lives

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As a concerned citizen of the State of Utah, I urge you to review the possible solution of legalizing organ trade. For more than half a century organ transplants have offered a second chance of life to thousands of sick patients. Unfortunately, the supply of organs for these patients does not meet the demand. By the end of each day, an average of 20 people die due to organ failure. In 2017, 42,609 organs were donated for those in need of a life-saving transplant. However, the organ donor waiting list consisted of over 144,000 men, women, and children in need of a transplant that same year (Organ Donation Statistics). Only thirty percent of the patients are actually receiving the organs needed. As you can see, there is a major organ shortage for these patients. My opinion is that economic incentives, such as receiving money for donating, will increase the supply of organs and save lives. Others argue that legalizing organ trade is against human morality and will undermine current organ donations. I do not think that these points are completely valid and are not worth more than a human life. 

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Currently, the selling and harvesting of human organs is a crime in the United States, but should it be? The ongoing organ shortage is a problem that I am very familiar with. I personally have a close aunt who is currently on the transplant waiting list and a good friend who was not able to find a donor on the waiting list before his kidney started to fail. Luckily, unlike many, one of his family members was able to give him one of their kidneys before he died. This event of almost losing a friend has led me to think of alternative options that could potentially help supply more organs for those in need of a transplant. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are affected by the organ shortage. They are suffering not because these organs aren’t available, but because ethics and morality don’t allow them access to these life-saving organs. Legalizing organ trade is the answer to this problem. 

While doing research I conducted a small survey at Utah Valley University. In this survey, I asked 100 student, teachers, and university workers two questions. These questions were first if they thought that giving your organs to sick patients for money in return was wrong and if they were dying, would they be willing to pay for someone else’s organs? As a result, 64 out of 100 people surveyed said that they think it is fine to receive money for organs and 76 out of 100 said they would be willing to pay for an organ if they were dying. According to Legal Issues in Payment of Living Donors for Solid Organs, organ sales was deemed illegal with little to no debate (Shapiro). I understand that this was a small survey, but perhaps now people are open to marketing organs than when it became illegal by the Senate in 1984. Education and sense of morality can change through time. For example, the Roman physician, Galen, performed his anatomy research on pigs because it was immoral to dissect humans at the time. Now, the dissection of human cadavers is routine in the medical field (RR Kishore). Perhaps the same can be concluded with organ trade. Federally, the acquiring, selling, and trading of human organs for economic incentives has been illegal since 1984. The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to $50,000 and or a five-year sentence to prison. The U.S. Senate concluded that “society’s moral values militate against rendering the body as a commodity.” (Shapiro). However, I believe that it is an unfair comparison to associate organ vendors with criminals that commit horrendous crimes. The punishment ignores the circumstances that urged the person to sell his/her organ in the first place. A person sells his/her with the knowledge that their organ is going to save a life of another human being. If the person knew that selling his/her organs would lead to the death or other injuries to the buyer, they wouldn’t have sold their organ. Because of this, I do not believe that they are doing anything immoral or inhumane. A criminal commits an act solely for his own personal gain, without caring for the loss of the victim (RR Kishore). 

So, it shouldn’t be a crime to help another human being if neither the buyer or seller are being harmed. This is one of the many misconceptions that organ sales are a heinous crime. Another misconception is that the legalization of organ trade will undermine current voluntary organ donations. This claim states that there is even evidence that marketing organs would cause citizens to not donate their organs out of altruism. The supposed evidence is that of the effect permitting blood sales. When states first allowed receiving money for blood, the overall supply for blood dropped because they received less voluntary donators (Shapiro). Many are afraid that if the United States were to legalize organ trade, then the overall decrease in voluntary donations would be larger than the increase in paid donations. It is my opinion that this will not be the outcome. Perhaps the number of donations will decrease, but I do not believe that it will significantly decrease for two reasons. Currently, the vast majority of living organ donors are family members or friends of the sick patients (Dalal). Donors that fall under this category will not stop donating because of money, rather will continue to donate in order to save loved ones. The legalization of organ sales will not affect their sense of altruism and family members will still donate. Another reason why organ donations won’t vastly decrease is because the number one source of donations come from deceased donors. For example, in 2017, the number of living donors were 6,181 and 10,281 donors that were discussed (Organ Statistics). 

Legalizing organ trade will not affect the number of people dying and donating their organs. The number of donations coming from the dead will not be affected by organ trade. The third argument against is that organ trade will cause exploitation of the poor (Crane). That paid organ donations would lead to unfair disadvantages between the rich and the poor. Those at a lesser economic stance will be unable to pay for a kidney. I believe that this problem has a solution and at the same time legalizing organ sales is, at a small extent, closing the gap between the rich and poor. The solution is that a private organization or the government could purchase and equally allocate the organs fairly. In Minneapolis, a concept just as this was used in, “ nonrelated altruistic living kidney donations” (Shapiro). This system caused donated organs to be sent into a pool of organs from which they directed the most suitable patients. The suitability was taken according to their personal medical criteria. This is also how they allocate cadaveric organs. This will allow poorer patients to still receive organs. Last, to a small extent poor are becoming richer because of the money that they are receiving thus slightly closing their poverty gap. The last argument I will be addressing is whether organ sales is contrary to human dignity. Human dignity is a viable way to measure ethical content whether or not a statement or situation is right or wrong. In order to do this, it is important to know what human morality means in its essence and what characteristics describe human dignity. According to RR Kishore, it is, “human dignity is an expression of the human content of Homo sapiens. It is an expression of the properties or virtues due to which a human creature is known as a human being. These are the character or attributes that are unique to the human race and not possessed by any other living form.” (RR Kishore). Such characteristics can be defined as love, trust, righteousness, compassion, fairness, forgiveness, beneficence, sacrifice, and concern for the weak (RR Kishore). 

With that being said, how can any act of saving the life of another human being be opposed to human dignity? Giving your organ is a sacrifice to help the weak and less fortunate. On the contrary, one could argue that it is against human dignity to not allow a solution that would help save thousands of lives. To let humans die prematurely and allow them to struggle living day to day when they can be cured. In my opinion organ sales is not contrary to human dignity and that opposing the organ trade is more contrary to human dignity. Not only legalizing organ trade benefit the sick, but it would regulate and undermine the black market. Even though it is illegal to sell human organs, the practice still occurs (Friedlaender). Every year citizens of third world countries are targeted by wealthy Americans in order to pay for their organs. This can lead to diseases, operations done by non-doctors, and even death to the donor and recipient. If organ trade was to be legalized, the government could control and monitor the practice inside of the United States. This improves the quality and quantity of supply while creating less harm to the public. The cost-benefit of organ trade may also benefit insurance companies and brokers. For example, it is much cheaper to pay for a kidney rather than to keep a patient alive on dialysis. A transplant would pay for itself within a couple of years and the patient is healthy just after one surgery. Opposed to continuing costs of keeping a patient alive through expensive treatments for months even years (Crane). This results in benefits to both the patient and the companies. The basic means to why organs are donated is for human survival. If we could legalize the use of organ sales, then not only will more sick patients survive, but those in poverty will have a better chance of survival too. The recipient survives the terminal illness, and the seller receives money to get them out of the threat of poverty. This could help college students pay for their education, help those without the means to afford insurance afford medical care, fewer people would resort to crime in order to receive “easy” money, etc. With organ trade, everybody wins.“Society owes a duty to save the life of a dying man and in the event of failure to do so, it is absolutely immoral to interfere with his own arrangements by making unrealistic laws.” (RR Kishore) If you are still hesitant receiving money for one’s organs, I have a proposition for another solution. Perhaps those giving their organs can receive medical insurance rather than money. There are many individuals who cannot afford medical insurance and this would be a viable way for them to be covered. Perhaps this is a more ethical solution to the matter. Those giving to sick patients should also receive help when they are in a medical crisis. 

In conclusion, there is a major need for a greater organ supply in the United States. Legalizing the market for human organs is the solution to this problem. This would result in a personal economic improvement and save lives. Organ marketing is not contrary to human dignity and saving a human life far outwieghs the cons. I sincerely hope that you will take my point of view on the organ shortage into consideration. Thank you very much for your time. 

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Organ Sales Will Save Lives. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved December 6, 2022 , from

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