It’s 2013!

It’s January 1st 2013 and time for those resolutions. I’m not really one for sticking to New Year’s resolutions so I’m not going to write any. But I do have one goal and that is to commit myself to writing more on this blog!

As I confessed in my 2012 review, I watched far too much TV last year, especially US crime seriblogstockes. Sometimes (not often) they posited real issues and one that stayed with me long after the episode ended, was whether or not people should be able to sell one of their own organs for money. The premise of the story was that a young kid needed a kidney transplant but was way down the donor list, so the parents paid for an ‘illegal’ kidney harvested from someone who was being paid to donate it. The doctors who were part of the illegal organ ‘scam’ were arrested but protested that they were just trying to help sick people who hadn’t a chance of receiving a donor organ.

Afterwards I thought about whether I agreed with the doctors or the police. The kid was going to die so what was the problem? If a healthy person wants to donate an organ for money that will help someone else live, then why shouldn’t they be able to? Why do sick people need to wait for someone to die (the main source of donor organs) before they can live?  I have a donor card in my wallet but if I could donate a kidney right now to help someone live, for cash, would I? I struggled to answer that question to be honest with you.

organsThe thin end of this particular wedge of course, is forced organ donation.  According to the World Health Organisation, “Payment for…organs is likely to take unfair advantage of the poorest and most vulnerable groups, undermines altruistic donation and leads to profiteering and human trafficking.” Research indicates that illegal organ trade is on the rise, with a recent report estimating that the illegal organ trade generates profits between $600 mill and $1.2 billion per year with a span over many of the poorest countries around the world. [Source: Wikipedia].

A particularly revealing article in The Guardian (UK) stated that kidneys make up 75% of the global illicit trade in organs. Rising rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems are causing demand for kidneys to far outstrip supply”.

Persuading powerless, poverty-stricken people to donate an organ – often in less than sanitary conditions – with a meagre cash incentive is, of course, abhorrent and I support the organisations that are trying to stop organ trafficking. But what if someone wants to donate who isn’t under any financial or other pressure to do so, what then? Should people in Western countries be allowed do donate an organ to help another person live? What do you think? Can you answer my question?  Would you donate a kidney for cash or even for free if you could?


Categories: Just Plain Blog

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5 replies

  1. I don’t think I could donate a kidney to anyone other than my children or grandchildren. I’m not at all that giving! There is quite a bit of discussion in the United States about illegal organ procurement. I haven’t yet followed all of the prompts to the end so I don’t know that much about it, but it does cause me great concern to think that people donate under duress, or because of such poverty that it becomes a means to survival. It’s a deep subject and one that should be discussed more openly so that we can all learn together. Happy New Year to you, and I wish you success with your new writing plan! It sounds like a good one to me! 🙂

  2. I am a pragmatist when it comes to this sort of thing, Sally. I don’t think we can stop people from selling organs so the best policy would be government oversight and regulation combined with an education campaign aimed at raising peoples’ awareness of what it means to give up a kidney. Not all donors really understand what they are taking on.

  3. That is a hard one. I do think someone should be able to donate, whether for pay or for free, if they wanted to. I don’t believe anyone should be forced to donate. I would donate for free to a family member, close friend, or anyone else that I felt led to donate to. Unfortunately, I have kidney disease and could possibly find myself in need of a donor someday.

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