Re: organ donation

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 23:58:21 MST

Philip Howison wrote:

>>>Would it not be more extropian to encourage trade in human organs?
>>>I realise this sounds gruesome to many people, but it would
>>>definitely result in increased organ availability. It would be difficult
>>Does it get us generally closer to the type of world we
>>wish/need to live in? It doesn't look much like what my goal
>>is. On the one hand it is ghastly unpleasant and subject to
>>tons of abuse. On the other hand I wonder how much worse it is
>>to sell all of one's hopes, dreams, ambitions, talent and
>>productive time to merely eat and pay the rent while never
>>claiming one's own dreams. Selling a kidney seems almost clean
>>in comparison. If a person can choose one questionable trade-off
>>freely then why not the other?
> That is the whole point of capitalism- choice. People are more likely to
> choose
> the higher payoff, but always some people will make choices most people see
> as questionable.
> the question is, does anyone have a right to prevent people from making bad
> choices?

The implication is that all people are capable of making a fair
choice. Seeing what seems to sell whatever the TV ads are for I
have a very difficult time thinking that most of the people out
there are capable of such fair choice. We've bred it out of 'em.

I assume that at the least only adults can sell an organ and
then only their own. No parting out your children and relations.

> (1) banning trade in organs violates your right to own your own body.

Not necessarily. It might keep someone else from talking you
out of some of your body.

> (2) legalizing organ trade would result in greater organ supply and thus
> decreasing mortality rates for many diseases.

An increasing rates for those that have sold off too much.

> (3) families of dead people would be better off, especially people who now
> cannot afford a
> proper funeral.

People can set up to donate organs when they die already. What
is with letting the relatives change your decision or lack of
same when you die?

> (4) you could make extra cash by selling blood, skin, etc.

As someone who has lived on the street at one time and was once
desperate enough to sell whole blood for the pittance to get off
the street for a night, this is not a great argument. And it is
only one step removed from a creditor suggesting (more forcibly
if the creditor is a loan shark) that you sell off a part to
clear your debt. No thanks.

> The only disadvantage I can see is organ smuggling, which is rumoured to
> occur currently.
> An open market would probably incrrease supply to the point where such
> gruesome possibilities would be uneconomic.

The possible downsides are many, some of which I alluded to above.

>>Except in situations of unequal power and wealth the selfishness
>>of the more powerful will, other things being equal, swam the
>>self-interest of the weaker. If people can be coerced and
>>persuaded to do and go along with some of the stupid things of
>>today then I find it very hard to believe that many could not be
>>persuaded to part with an organ even if it was not, on
>>reasonably objective analysis, in their interests. If that is
>>so then granting such trade legal status would legalize a
>>nightmare with serious moral and health repurcussions.
> There are few organs which can be taken from live bodies, and enough people
> die that market forces would result in demand satisfied by dead peoples

They include things like one kidney and one lung unfortunately.
       Who knows what future medicine can make use of? Of
course in a generation or two I expect medical nanotech (if
Singularity hasn't taken us sooner) to make all of this moot anyway.

> organs.
> Maybe I have too much faith in peoples intelligence, but I really cannot see
> someone
> giving up, say, a healthy cornea, given that the number of dead people
> leaving their
> organs to their families to sell would drive prices down.

Then you have a lack of imagination and much too high of an
opinion of the majority's intelligence. Also you underestimate
what a desperate person might consider, especially when young
enough to make a foolish decision or two too many.

> I cant see a down side to legalizing organ trade.
> Your concerns sound vaguely paranoid, but are unfortunately shared by most
> people-
> making it unlikely that organ trade will occur in the near future.

If you can't see a down side then you aren't looking. Don't
call me paranoid when I am simply telling you what I've seen in
the world and logical extrapolation from it. This one strikes
me as a very questionable idea and one likely to generate a lot
of problems. I much rather see us clone replacement parts
directly, which we aren't that far from, while we await medical NT.

- samantha

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