I’ve had a little exchange with a friend on facebook over my ideas on selling kidneys. I’m sure that other people have similar fears, so here are my responses.
First off, it must be remembered that if selling and buying kidney were legal, things would not be the same as they are now. Issues relating to variable quality, obtaining kidneys from unsavory sources, the cost, and the potential violence of harvesting from unwilling people would be solved by the ability to go to a local clinic or hospital to have the procedure done. Imagine that kidney clinics were as common as fertility clinics, or dialysis clinics… There is no reason to think that kidney transplantation would be much different than it is now when it comes to safety. Selling would be done at the same places.
You have to keep in mind that you can’t just pop any old kidney into anyone else. There are compatibility issues. In addition, you don’t want any sort of nasties to be transmitted to the recipient, so proper screening is necessary. When dealing with a black market, you take some pretty big risks, but there’s no reason to in a legal market.
As far as the cost goes, it would still be expensive, but what major medical thing isn’t expensive? It’s hard to imagine that insurance companies wouldn’t cover the procedure since it would prove to be a great savings over dialysis costs and complications. Legalization also would end up lowering the costs since the supply would be dramatically increased.
My friend David summed it up like this, “Would selling organs open a Pandora’s box? Yes. Do I have the right to keep that box closed. No. Should I fight to make sure people aren’t exploited- absolutely.” I would never claim that legalizing this wouldn’t bring up some tricky issues or solve all of the problems out there but it would help a lot.
In the end, all of the positive results are very nice and good, but they are not the real reason to legalize the buying and selling of organs. The real reason is that people should be in charge of their own bodies. If ethical issues come up because of that, so be it. taking control away from people in regards to their own body is the real crime, everything else is a secondary effect.