RE: organ donation

From: Philip Howison (
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 22:08:36 MST

> > 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
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

(1) banning trade in organs violates your right to own your own body.
(2) legalizing organ trade would result in greater organ supply and thus
decreasing mortality rates for many diseases.
(3) families of dead people would be better off, especially people who now
cannot afford a
proper funeral.
(4) you could make extra cash by selling blood, skin, etc.

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.

> 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
Maybe I have too much faith in peoples intelligence, but I really cannot see
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.

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

Philip Howison

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