The Sale of Human Organs

One of the most extreme situations an ill individual can face is the failure of a major organ, be it the heart, lung, kidney, or liver. Such situations are death sentences unless the organ can be replaced with either a mechanical substitute or a donated human organ. But mechanical replacements are often poor substitutes for bodily organs. In addition, some mechanical replacements severely restrict individuals’ lives by tethering them to machines. Human organs, on the other hand, can be difficult or even impossible to obtain legally. More than 100,000 Americans are now on organ waiting lists, and 18 die each day. As a result, an illegal, multimillion-dollar, international market in human organs has emerge.

Most commonly, the organs sold through this market are kidneys, although livers, lungs, corneas, and other organs also are sold. Because almost everyone is born with two kidneys and only one is needed to live, an individual can usually live a normal and healthy life with just one.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The Sale of Human Organs
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

Selling an organ carries great risks but can seem worth it if an individual is poor enough. In Brazil, for example, a person can earn $80 per month working at minimum wage—if work is available—or sell his or her kidney for $3,000. Such sales are illegal in many countries, but those laws are rarely enforced.

To some observers, the trade in human organs is a natural and reasonable market response in which supply (organs for sale) develops to fill an obvious need (organs wanted). These observers see no difference between selling organs and selling any other valued commodity such as drugs, cars, or food. Similarly, they argue, people should have at least as much right to buy an organ that will save their life as they have to buy a television or a facelift and as much right to risk their health by selling an organ as they have to risk their life by selling their labor in a dangerous occupation

Other observers, however, compare the trade in human organs to the trade in humans and consider selling organs no more ethical than selling slaves. They athlete who revels in showing off her many artificial legs, including an exquisitely carved, high-heeled, wooden pair and a carbon-fiber pair for running that mimics a cheetah’s stride.

Health Social Movements In addition to challenging stigma and discrimina- tion individually, persons who live with or are at risk of illness or disability can also turn to collective political action to address their grievances. Like other social movements, health social movements are collective (rather than individual) efforts to change something about the world that movement members believe is wrong.

Health social movements have a variety of goals. Many focus on obtaining equal access to health care by, for example, fighting to loosen health insurers’ re- strictions on what treatments they will cover. Other health social movements focus on meeting the needs (including access to health care) of a particular group. For example, the feminist health movement has fought to give women equal access to heart disease treatments, to halt the unnecessary use of hysterectomies, and to increase the number of women physicians. Finally, a growing number of health

argue that no one truly sells their bodily organs freely but does so because they are coerced by poverty. They also argue that whenever a highly profitable commodity is unregulated by laws, unscrupulous individuals will find ways to profit, and vulnerable individuals—whether buyers or sellers—will be exploited. Individuals who purchase black-market organs have no guarantee that the donor was healthy or that the organ is a good match for them, and those who sell organs have no guarantee that the surgery will be conducted safely, that it won’t harm their health, and that they will receive needed health care afterward. A study conducted in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu found that virtually all who (illegally) sell their kidneys do so to pay crippling debts. Yet because most (86%) were in worse health in the years after surgery, their average family incomes declined by one-third, even though average incomes in the state increased. Despite these problems, though, the trade in organs is likely to continue so long as demand continues to outstrip supply.


and taste our undisputed quality.