Organ Selling

Organ Selling is a website dedicated to ending the organ shortage and the attendant needless suffering and death each year of thousands of prospective organ transplant patients simply by allowing monetary compensation for cadaveric organs, which will greatly increase the supply.

House Sponsors
1984 report
Senate Sponsors
Testimony in favor of the ban
Testimony opposing the ban
Penna. Reimbursement Plan
Medical Ethics

Senate Report accompanying the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act [Taken from U.S. Congressional Serial Set No. 13557, Senate Report 98-382 (98th Congress, 2nd Session)]

p.4:"the prohibition on the buying and selling of human organs is directed at preventing the for-profit marketing of kidneys and other organs." 
Our Senators didn't say why. Presumably, they wished to prevent the poor from being induced to sell a kidney while they're still alive, as has happened in India and other countries.   But, as many economists and philosophers have noted, the ban they enacted is unnecessarily broad, in that it also prevents the sale of cadaver organs. By unnecessarily banning cadaveric market activity, they greatly lessened the supply of organs available for transplantation.  Any intelligent person who has taken freshman economics could have predicted this outcome. This purposeful restriction of market activity is especially puzzling, given that on the very next page of their report they state: (p. 5) "The Congress finds and declares that---(1) the lack of suitable donor organs for patients awaiting surgery is a major obstacle to all organ transplant programs; (2) a number of patients waiting for donor organs face certain death within a predictable time period"

Later on they state (pp. 16-17), "It is the sense of the Committee that individuals or organizations should not profit by the sale of human organs for transplantation..."
So, it's morally OK to profit by selling toothpaste which can save someone's teeth, but not OK to profit by selling organs which can save someone's life?   This is what our Congress considers to be a rational standard of morality?   Maybe they'd really like to ban profits altogether, and establish a socialist worker's paradise.  (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Further along in the same section they state: "The Committee believes that human body parts should not be viewed as commodities..."
    I'll admit it is a bit macabre to think about a commodities market for human organs, with listings of the going rates for various organs.   But it's not like they're going to be listed in the financial pages.  And while it's comforting to think we're NOT composed of interchangeable parts, like our cars or computers, the fact is that, to an extent, we are.  Human body parts already ARE commodities, in the sense of being valuable things that are transported from place to place. (Here at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, I've seen people in Tranplant Surgery walking around with Igloo coolers, and I don't think they're carrying their lunches.)  While Congress hides from reality, thousands of innocent people die each year. Of course, when a politician needs a transplant, they don't have to wait long, if the 1993 case of then-Governor of Pennsylvania Bob Casey is any indication.  (He got a combined heart-liver transplant within HOURS of going on the waiting list.)


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Last updated: September 26, 2006.