To what extreme would an individual reach to save the life of his or her own mother, brother, or even child? The National Kidney Foundation rejects any and all efforts to allow individuals to legally sell organs. However, many people have made arguments that this law is unreasonable. If there is any chance at all to save more lives by lifting this law, why has it not already been lifted? This essay will refute the main points of Financial Incentives for Organ Donation written by the National Kidney Foundation and explore the reasons on why the law is crippling the number of transplants being performed.
The first point that the National Kidney Foundation brings out in their argument is that, Offering direct or indirect economic benefits in exchange for organ donation is inconsistent with our values as a society. Any attempt to assign a monetary value to the human body, or body parts, either arbitrarily, or through market forces, diminishes human dignity (220). However, the point that this organization is trying to make is contradictory. Do a simple Google search asking what body parts or functions an individual can sell; that fact alone will prove that as a society it is very consistent with our standards. Women can sell breast milk. Men can sell sperm. A person with AB- or AB+ can sell plasma. The list could go on and on. The point that is trying to be made here is untrue. As a society, that standard is not being held constant. Where is the line drawn and who draws it? What is the difference between a woman renting out her womb for nine months and someone getting paid for their unneeded organ? Plain and simple, each individual person should obtain a voice about what happens to their body. Whether that voice is saying yes to organ donation or no to organ donation, the government should not be able to tell the people what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Philosopher and bioethicist, Julian Savulescu said it best when he said:
People have a right to make a decision to sell a body part. If we should be allowed to sell our labor, why not sell the means to that labor? If we should be allowed to risk damaging our body for pleasure (by smoking or skiing), why not for money which we will use to realize other goods in life? To ban a market in organs is, paradoxically, to constrain what people can do with their own lives. (J Savulescu)
Like the philosopher and bioethicist argued above, every person in the world has the right to make their own choice. A counter argument that is often made is that with the donor giving their unneeded organ, it could potentially cause health issues. However, individuals take harmful risks every single day. If a person is willing to risk their own health to save someone else, then why should they not be paid? A prime example of this is the military. Service men and women risk their lives every single day for Americans and still get a salary. Would this be a double-standard?
The next concern the National Kidney Foundation has with financial incentives being offered is it could be, viewed as an attempt to coerce economically disadvantaged Americans to participate in organ donation (221). There is no doubt that lower class citizens will be highly interested in this opportunity for an economic boost. However, what is the basis of the claim? An organ is an organ, no matter if it comes from Bill Gates or the homeless man on Fifth Avenue. With that being said, as long as each donation is healthy and meets the standard requirements, it is not important which end of the spectrum it originates. When opening a market for organs, an extremely critical component to making this idea successful would be that someone must be going through all donor applications. For example, there will be people from all walks of life (drug addicts, alcoholics, tobacco users) trying to donate to afford their next bottle of whisky or high. Having an individual inspecting each candidate would eliminate the population that the National Kidney Foundation is afraid of. No one has the right to deny someone the opportunity to get out of poverty and to deny other people an opportunity to get out of debilitation and suffering (Have a Heart Legalize Human Organ Sales).
The National Kidney Foundation also argues that a market’s ability to increase the supply of organs is questionable, and that 92% said that payment would not have persuaded them to donate (221). More times than not, people have no idea what they would truly do until they are faced with the situation. So, 92% is not set in stone. On another note, the leftover 8% is equally important and must be a part of the conversation. More and more people are dying every year because of lack of transplant procedure. As of 2017, 114,000 women, men, and children are on the waiting list, but only 34,770 have been performed (Organ Donation Statistics). Even if it was just a small 8%, imagine how many lives are being saved with it. The fact that it is decreasing the death toll cannot be ignored. The article also brings out three reasons on why most people do not donate: the health care of potential donors might be compromised, it could expose the potential recipient to unnecessary risks, and money incentives would give individuals a reason to be dishonest about their health. Offering a compensation for donations does make the issue a little trickier. However, it does not have to be all bad. Everyone knows, money is a game changer, so why not let it change the game for a good cause? By strengthening security on personal information and examining potential donors more thoroughly, one could eliminate the concerns that come along with organ donation.
In the article written by the National Kidney Foundation, this organization shuts down any hope to make an organ market become reality. However, this is where the American Medical Association, the United Network for Organ Sharing, and the Ethics Committee disagree with the National Kidney Foundation. All the organizations listed above, excluding the National Kidney Foundation, believe it is time for a call to action. These organizations think it is time for a pilot program which focuses on the direct correlation of organ donation and financial incentives. There is no greater motivation for people to do something besides money. It is true that individuals should want to donate organs, among other things, without reaping any benefits. However, the type of good-hearted people organ recipients’ needs is not cutting it anymore. So, why not take the one thing society craves and turn it into something life-changing? Another reason the National Kidney Foundation objects to a market or even a pilot project is, because it will be difficult to revert to an altruistic system once payment is initiated (221). The key word in their response is difficult. Nowhere in the article does it ever say returning to the old way was impossible, but only difficult. However, too many lives are being lost to ignore the fact that there is a way to reduce the number of fatalities.
Just because the National Kidney Foundation is adamant about keeping payment for organs illegal and unethical does not mean the rest of the world holds the same standards. Thousands of lives can be spared each year if the law against the sale of organs were to be lifted. It was stated in the article that, The headline Local Family Offered Money for Loves One’s Organs’ should never appear (221). However, the country should remove their headline of Too Stubborn and Afraid to Make a Change with an Organ Market and solely focus on what will help save the most amount of lives by letting individuals make their own decisions.
The National Kidney Foundation has legitimate concerns about opening a market for organs. Of course, the idea of a market needs serious work put into it, but that does not mean it will not be productive. However, every little effort made counts, too. An excuse some people use for not being organ donors on their license is because they do not know enough about it to check the box. So, if the market is not feasible right now, inform and educate everyone about the organ donation process and what it is all about. Every person in the world has been touched somehow by organ donation. Maybe it was just because the loved one’s number was not called in time. This is an opportunity to spare the next recipient’s life and family of having to experience the pain of running out of time. If there has ever been a reason to work together for the good of mankind, this is it.
In conclusion, the United States is in desperate need of help for gaining more organs to perform transplants. The number of deaths are getting larger every year. Even as we speak, someone has died because they did obtain the organ they needed. An opportunity to save more lives is in the reach. A market for organs, or being able to sale organs for money, is not the solution that will totally make the problem go away. However, it is a good start. It is not about fixing the problem entirely, but making the problem smaller. It is not about what is ethical in the eyes of the government, or even the majority. It should be considered a personal decision that each and every individual should have a chance to make on his or her own. The National Kidney Foundation has essentially said that a market is not possible because it will diminish human life, attract poor people, not be a big enough change to matter, and could cause irreversible damage. However, could there really any damage bigger than 23,370 lives lost per year as a direct cause of not have enough organ supply?
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