Several posts back, I wrote about the ethics of organ transplantation, including the phenomena of the black market trade in organs. When it comes to kidneys, this often leads to exploitation of the poor. There are international agreements prohibiting the sale of organs.
Nevertheless, twice since I have started this blog, I have received messages from people offering to sell one of their kidneys to me. One person felt his kidney was worth five million dollars. That seems a little excessive since, according to one site I had come across, the going rate for a kidney on the black market is $20,000.
The most recent offer of a kidney for sale came through on Twitter last night. A person in Australia was looking to sell a kidney in order to fund a sex-change operation. The person specified that the transaction was to be done “overseas,” since Australia is one of those countries that has signed onto the agreement prohibiting the sale of organs. I suppose the idea would be that we would rendezvous in a country with less rigorous regulatory enforcement in these matters.
I find these messages troubling, of course. Despite my situation, I feel very well cared for. I have great medical care, and if someone does choose to altruistically donate a kidney to me, I know that they will have the most thoroughgoing series of medical exams in their lives in order to determine their suitability to donate. The same cannot necessarily be said for the desperately poor person who is selling a kidney for money.
I don’t really want to have a post be so bleak, so here are some cartoons that poke fun at the whole money for organs situation, and also happen to skewer the industry that I have been a part of for most of the last decade: finance. Here you go: