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Should the Sale of Human Organs Be Legalized?

An illegal organ trade preys on the healthy but poor people. In the black market, the people who give the highest price will get the live organ, and this appearance becomes the fodder of the black market. Therefore, many poor people sell their organs in exchange for pitiful amount of money. However, extending the life of a patient who is ill is a primary purpose of organ transplantation or replacement, and it saves many patients’ life. But, the black market is really active, due to the huge lack of the human organs. [Accordingly, the best way to stop completely the illegal trade of organs would be legalized the sale of human organs. Furthermore, a large number of people believe that they have the right to sell their body parts, and if we have a legal and licensed market, we will get more human organs from those people. It can help more ill people to get benefits from the transplantation.]

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There is a fact which urges a market for selling human organs:

The result of our misguided altruism-only organ donation system is much the same: too few organs and too much death. More than 100,000 Americans are currently on the national organ waiting list. Last year, 28,000 transplants were performed, but 49,000 new patients were added to the queue. As the list grows longer, the wait grows deadlier, and the shortage of available organs grows more acute. Last year, 6,600 people died while awaiting the kidney or liver or heart that could have kept them alive (Weisenthal, 1).

Many patients have to bear the painful dialysis during the period of waiting the organs on the list, and the expense of dialysis is about $45,000 to $50,000 per year (Abraham, Ilene, and Andrew, 1). The fact of this organ donation system which we have is the proof of the limitation for providing human organs to those patients. Under this situation, many wealthy people would rather buy the organs from the black market. Horror stories about “Being drugged and undergoing involuntary nephrectomy went the rounds on the internet and newspapers exposing the illegal trafficking of human organs” (Meyer 208). It tells us that how does the black market get the organs. Actually the existence of the market which get the organs in an illegal way is a threatening of our people’s life. Therefore, a legal market of human organ will increase the number of available human organs for the patients and reduce illegal sale activities.

Besides, with new developments in medicine, the former tradition of restricting organ donations such as kidneys to the close relatives of the patient has been lifted because of the new findings about immunosuppressive armamentarium have markedly expanded. In addition, “the introduction of more potent drugs that prevents organ rejection has improved the chances of survival in both recipient and graft” (Matas2007). Generally, success rates for single-organ transplants average 80% or higher. With the waiting list growing for kidney transplants while the supply for kidneys from both live and dead donors could not keep up with the demand, it becomes imperative that an immediate solution to the problem be addressed. “One such solution was to develop a regulated payment scheme for kidney donors or vendors” (Matas 2009). The argument for such as scheme is to primarily decrease the number of patients with end stage renal disease dying while on the waiting list for potential new kidneys. “By allowing the sales of kidneys, this would increase the availability, shorten waiting periods and increase the survival rates of patients” (Matas 2009).

The Radcliffe-Richards suggestion to lift the ban on organ sales is grounded on the fact that arguments against profiting or benefiting from such sale becomes irrelevant, as everyone (physicians, hospitals, coordinators and recipients) except the donors are reaping the benefits from the transplant. From the legal standpoint, precedents on the sale of body parts such as sperm or egg and paid surrogate mothers exist. The prima facie claim for body part sales are based on two claims – ‘good donor claim’ and ‘sale of tissue claim’(2009). The good donor claim argues that a person donating live kidney is already recognized legally so why not extend to include the sale of kidneys because the difference between donating and selling is the monetary motivation. The ‘sale of tissue claim’ contends that the sale of human tissues and body parts is legal and “monetary self-interest does not on its own warrant legal prohibition” (2009).

In addition, Every human being has the right to sell his/her own organs since every individual is the property of oneself. Imposing restrictions on the sale of human organs is paternalistic and ignores the need for autonomy (Matas 2009). A poor person may not have many physical property, but their bodies are precious wealth which belong to their own. Therefore, people have the right to dominate their own body parts. Actually, there are many people that are willing to sell their own organs to provide for their families. “If the law acknowledges our right to give away an organ, it should also acknowledge our right to sell or buy an organ” (David 34). This argument for the legalization of organ sale claims that people have the right to decide about donating or selling their own organs. This is self-explanatory, as who would not want to save lives if it is possible. If legalizing human organ sale solves the problem of scarcity, long wait and controlling illegal human organ trafficking, and then the rationales will justify supporting the legalization argument.

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However, the issue of legalizing human organ sale also involves moral, ethic and legal arguments. Legalization may to some extent controlling the illegal trade of human organs, but it is more pressing to consider the ethical and moral appropriateness of human organ sale. Ethical and moral conflicts emerge in the efforts to promote legalization of human organ sale. Bakdash and Scheper-Hughes in Is It Ethical for Patients with Renal Disease to Purchase Kidneys from the World’s Poor? cited the “ethical conflict between the principles of non-malfeasance and beneficence.” This is being resolved by adopting market principles: “those able to broker or buy a human organ should be allowed to do so. Paying for a kidney donation is often described as a win–win situation beneficial to both parties” (Tarif and Nancy, 1). Opponents to legalization argue that allowing such an arrangement allows the exploitation of the poor.

The autonomy argument by advocates of legalizing human organ sale is shot down with this counter-argument. The autonomy argument is based on the western concept of contract and individual choice. However, this is incompatible with economic and social contexts of poor nations. Bakdash and Scheper-Hughes’ argue that how could the poor from the urban slum of Calcutta, or the favelas of Brazil or the shantytowns of the Philippines could have any choice or autonomy when they agree to sell their body parts. Consent is problematic in this case because putting a price tag on body parts “exploits the desperation of the poor, turning their suffering into a medical opportunity” (Tarif and Nancy, 1). In India where organ sale is brisk, the poor that sold their kidneys did not fare any better. According to Goyal et al’s study, 87 percent of the kidney sellers reported deteriorating health and a third experienced decreased in family income. For those who sold their kidneys to pay off debts, 74 percent were still in debt six years after selling their kidneys (qtd. in Rothman and Rothman, 1).

However, many dissenters consider that the legalizing human organ sale is unethical and inhumanity, but many facts show that a legal market for human organs brings a lot of advantages to the society. “This practice is not only acceptable, but deemed extremely beneficial to society” (Daniel, 1). Amy Friedman, the director of transplantation at SUNY Upstate Medical University and a close relative of two transplant recipients and one live organ donor, says: “I agree with our opponents that the black market must be closed. I disagree with asking patients to accept death gracefully, instead of resorting to the black market…. Compensation for the organ donor’s time and risks, by providing life insurance, lifelong health insurance and even a direct monetary fee, is more appropriate than for the donation of an egg, the rental of a uterus for a surrogate pregnancy, or the participation in clinical experimentation, all of which are legal. ” (Friedman, 1). According to Amy’s point, better to constitute a legal human organ market which can help more patients than to let patients buy the organ from the black market. Actually, the moral and ethical arguments seem unhelpful in front of a patient who extremely needs an organ to save his/her live. While we are debating about the moral and ethical problems of the legal organ market, many patients die. Furthermore, she also mentions the compensation for the organ donors. Donation means contribute something without getting back anything, and compensation for the donors seems like the chips of the exchange. Those chips might make the donors feel better after they donated their organ, but the chips can really make the poor who want to sell their organ have the chance to live better. Therefore, a legal human organ sale is beneficial to the society.

The human organs have been the object of international trade for a long period of time. Some people just need some healthy organs very much as the transplantation of it is of crucial importance. It goes without saying that it is illegal to sell human organs. This issue is the object of the black market trade. The results of the annually statistics are always the same, they are repeated every year and this statistics is not inauspicious. Every year the results are the same, because people are dying and medics can do nothing to prevent it; they can do nothing to change the percentage of death cases and to decrease the number of people who die annually for different reasons. Some people die from diseases and the others die because of the lack of healthy human organs even including the number of healthy human organs within the sources of the black market trade. The only way to change the situation is to make the trade of human organs the legal subject; it would be the same as purchasing a house or a car, but sometimes it can be much more expensive and takes more time to complete the formalities for the documents in order to act according to the legal issues. According to national statistics More than 100,000 Americans are currently on the national organ waiting list. And these figures are not likely to fall. There are more people who need healthy human organs than the people who are likely to become donors. Though the results of the research tell that there are people who would like to sell their organs, it is illegal.

Besides, with new developments in the sphere of medicine, the former tradition of restricting organ donations such as kidneys to the close relatives of the patient has been lifted because of the new findings about immunosuppressive armamentarium have markedly expanded. Every human being has a right to sell its organs for a great number of reasons; and one of these reasons is the ethical one. If a person who has an organ which is healthy and is suitable for the transplantation, the medical assistants or people who decide upon the health and necessity of transplantation should accept the organ of this person. Even if the patient who needs the transplantation can not make the decision of accepting the healthy organ from another person, his/her relatives are to make it. People should not die when there is a great number of opportunities to save their precious lives. Medics, relatives, and patients themselves have to struggle for the life if they have such an opportunity. Though, the issue of legalizing human organ sale also involves moral, ethic and legal arguments, it is the personal problem of every individual. Besides, why not to take a person’s organ in the case this person is eager to give it to another one. Every precious gift has to be paid accordingly. The human life is considered to be priceless; so, the transplantation of some organ can be very expensive. The fact that a legal market for human organs brings a lot of advantages to the society can be considered a contradictory one, but people cannot judge other people for having decided to sell the organs. The trade of healthy human organs should be legalized as it can help to save a great number of lives.

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"Should the Sale of Human Organs Be Legalized?" StudyCorgi, 4 Nov. 2021,

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StudyCorgi. "Should the Sale of Human Organs Be Legalized?" November 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Should the Sale of Human Organs Be Legalized?" November 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Should the Sale of Human Organs Be Legalized'. 4 November.

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