Opinion

Saving lives by legalizing organ trade

It’s your worst fear—waking up in a bathtub full of ice and discovering one of your kidneys is missing. You start piecing the night together bit by bit. You remember feeling a little out of your league when that gorgeous Russian girl walked up with a crantini, your favorite drink. Not a word of English but she was awfully cute trying to hide that bump on her throat.  Before you completely lost consciousness, you realized this girl was packing more than an Adam’s apple – she had a complete surgical toolkit in her purse.  Finally you recognize that you have fallen victim to a human organ trafficking operation and do some research into this horrible practice.

In the U.S. there are over 100,000 people on the waiting list for an organ. Eighty thousand need a kidney and 15,000 a liver. Gee, over 90% of the people on the waiting list need either something that everybody’s got two of, or something that is self-regenerating. It is simply unthinkable that there are not enough donors to satisfy this small demand.

You find a seemingly good idea: compensate the families of deceased donors and start a business that buys kidneys from living donors. This was publicly suggested to the U.S. government in 1983 to incentivize donation, thereby increasing it. But we can’t let money replace altruism, cheapening those warm and fuzzy feelings obtained by doing something so selfless. Anyone who has no moral qualms about buying or selling organs can just go to hell – literally.

Ah no worries, our well-intentioned, forward-looking politicians are on the case. They’ll get those greedy bastards who want money for organs! Reps. Henry Waxman and Al Gore headed the effort to hurriedly pass the National Organ Transplantation Act in 1984, which banned the sale of human organs from dead and living donors. Yes, Al Gore, the man who lives an extravagant yet “carbon neutral” lifestyle by purchasing carbon offsets…from a company he partly owns.

So now the free exchange of goods between two desperate people – one for life and the other for money – has been turned into a crime and forced underground. Organ traffickers fill the void created by prohibition just as with alcohol in the 1920s and drugs today. The black market is simply the free market working around legislation that attempts to repeal the immutable laws of human action (economics).

You realize that by legalizing the organ trade you can spare thousands of lives. Now all you have to do is persuade your friendly lawmaker.

Condemning tens of thousands to suffering and, on average, 18 people per day to death just to impose their moral views upon everybody? Human organ traffickers can’t hold a candle to the gang of thieves called Congress.

September 9, 2009

Reporters

Timothy Heacock

Staff Columnist


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