Monday, November 25, 2013

Dr. Stephen Finger Calls For A Free Market In Human Organs For Transplantation

Dr. Stephen Finger, an Otolaryngologist practicing medicine in Brooklyn, says the buying and selling of human organs for transplantation should be made legal and would save lives. In a recent article published on November 19, 2013 entitled "Have A Heart or...Maybe A Kidney, Dr. Finger wrote the following:

"Each year, over six thousand Americans die waiting for a kidney transplant. Many more thousands die waiting for liver, lung or heart transplants.

There are now only two ways to get an organ for transplantation, i.e. either from a living donor (kidney, liver, lung) or cadaver (all). Living donors are usually, but not always, relatives or friends. To get a cadaver organ, you go on a list and wait. It's illegal to buy an organ. Has to be a donation and with nothing given in return.

Now, suppose the government allowed a free market in buying and selling human organs with regulation to prevent fraud and assure informed consent. Maybe sounds a little ghoulish (unless you happen to need a transplant) but, nevertheless, what would be the result?

Well, if you were rich enough and had been unable to find a willing donor before, you would probably offer a lot of money to buy an organ (it's possible to live a perfectly normal life with only one kidney, and with liver and lung, you would offer to buy only a piece of the organ). In the case of a heart, you would, of course, have to make an offer to the family of the deceased.

So, while you had been on a list, or on several lists, waiting for an organ, now that you've been transplanted, you're off the list(s) and everyone below you moves up a notch. What's wrong with that?

The rich get their transplants the fastest but most everyone else gets theirs faster now that there are fewer people on the list. Isn't that a good thing that everyone improves his or her lot in life even though not necessarily at the same rate?

And, of course, if organ-selling were to be legal, it's a pretty safe bet that many more organs would become available. And, like everything else that some people want to buy and others want to sell, as the supply goes up, the price would eventually start to come down.

And finally, isn't this exactly the kind of thing that insurance was designed for, i.e. a lot of people paying a small amount each year so that if they are someday one of the relatively few who need to purchase an organ for transplantation, it wouldn't bankrupt them?

Of course, there's no reason that any of this would ever have to become compulsory. If you're not interested in a transplant and would prefer dialysis, well, 'If you like your kidney, you can keep it...' No, really!"

Dr. Stephen Finger ran for Congress in 2006 on the Libertarian and Republican Party lines. You can visit his blog at:

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