Nov 2, 2017 in Analysis


Human body is rather fragile so it can be damaged easily. There are no spare parts or extra organs to use in order to replace the damaged ones. It is possible to replace a damaged organ or organs, requiring replacement, with the same organ from the matching donor. Modern science and medicine cannot yet produce artificial organs from organic materials that would be identical to the recipient’s organs regardless of certain success in the field of cloning and stem cells exploitation. Therefore, there are two major sources of donor organs – cadaveric organs and organs, obtained from the living human bodies.

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The current situation with organs’ transplantation is rather frustrating because demand exceeds offers by manifold. Organs’ donation is a noble gesture performed voluntarily and it is the major source of transplantation market (official). Donators do not receive any compensation for this gesture despite the fact that all other participants (except the recipient, probably) are involved into finance relations somehow (insurance company, medical facility, drugs providers, etc.). There is an idea to monetize the relationships of donors and recipients (including all necessary middle-parties) in order to improve the situation on the transplantology market. There are two obvious opinions regarding the issue. One of them is “yes, such market should exist” because it should satisfy both sides of the process. The oppose opinion is about “no, bodies and organs should not become commodities” because it will kill the idea of donation and discretize the concept of conscious help to other people by donating organs one can live without (kidney, part of liver, lung, etc.).

The positive opinion is represented by Lewis Burrows in the article “Selling Organs for Transplantation.” The author proposes to look at the situation from different angles.

  • First, donors are underappreciated while people involved into the process (doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical facilities, and insurance companies) have access to money and various forms of appreciation. Monetization of the donors’ efforts would change the situation on the market and could increase the desire of potential donors to participate in the donation programs.
  • Second point is about the potential of such concept for those who really need transplantation. Burrows discusses the process of kidney donation and exemplifies monetization of donation using this area. His point is that the people who require new kidney must get dialysis on the daily basis – during their lifetime. It means that in case of improvement of the situation on the donation “market” the number of people who desperately wait for an organ will reduce substantially.

Finally, while standing on the position of donor appreciation in monetary form, Burrows emphasizes the importance of the regulation in this area. Commoditization of donors’ activities can be used by various parties for their interest and it can create certain misbalance in terms of fair distribution of necessary organs in favor of those who will pay more. Therefore, the author outlines certain principles (Autonomy, Beneficence; The “do no harm” principle; and Justice) (p. 153) as the necessary to be taken into consideration while making the concept viable and effective. Burrows explains his position at the end of the article and states that such offer comes as necessity considering the situation with donors’ organs than a desire to make money on it. The situation has to be improved somehow and this is one of the possible resolutions.

The negative opinion is presented by James F. Childress in the article “Should Congress Allows the Buying and Selling of Human Organs? No.” The authors claims that donation of organs cannot be appreciated by any means but simple gratitude of the recipient and relatives. Donation itself cannot be performed pursuing selfish ends. Thus, donation of organs cannot be done using money or other means of appreciation. It will compromise the essence of donation.

Another point of Childress is as follows: people participate in voluntary donation programs without any particular desire and have certain fears and difficulties with filling donor cards. The author outlines the fact that considering the poll results, people are afraid of being claimed dead prematurely while having a donor card. He asks a rhetorical question – what would happen if the only step to fulfill the contract between donor and recipient were death? It scares people even more so donation of organs can be in even greater danger in case of monetization of the donation process.

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One more thing to consider (by Childress) is the distribution of organs in case of putting transplantology on money track. It is rather clear that those who have more money will have advantage in the waiting list and will receive organs quicker along with other advantages. Therefore, the principle of justice in this area will not work. People will donate being in despair because of a difficult financial situation not to mention the possibility of creating the legal market of organs’ supply from the developing and Third World countries.

Of course, Childress agrees that considerable appreciation of donors can be used in cases when it is appropriate. However, it cannot be done on the regular basis and it is not appropriate to create any kind of organs’ market. Commoditization of human body is the path to chaos and overall decay of donation as the act of good will and conscious help to people around. Selling organs is not legal and should not become legal any time soon until science finds the opportunities to create artificial organs. 

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