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My xristo-fascist wingnut brother Jack contends there should be a free market in human kidneys. Is he wrong?

Let me start by saying that Jack, who is 57, is giving a kidney next month to a co-worker. Free. Out of xtian love. There is no doubt about that.

The story - as I've heard it - is rather amusing. A couple years ago the story went around in the company that an employee has had his brother's kidney for 15 years or so but that it would not last forever and that he had been advised to start looking for a replacement. Twenty people volunteered to undergo match testing - when the time came. This year, that time has come, and (a) Jack was the only one of the 20 to stand behind his offer and (b) it seems that anti-rejection technology has improved to the point that the 'match' criteria are much less rigorous than just a few years ago. So Jack was deemed a satisfactory match, except that he was too over-weight to be approved. (Dang!)

What to do? As I'm sure most of us would do (not!), Jack explained the situation to his 32-year-old ne'er-do-well son Bill who immediately offered to be the donor. Jack had other plans, however, and has determinedly shed 30 pounds in 4 months. Jack now qualifies, and he will be giving the gift of a kidney to his colleague before xmas. As a xtian gesture.

Having given a lot more thought to the matter than have I, Jack has concluded that 'the good society' would permit a free market in bodily organs. "After all", he tells me, "There are at least 500 million healthy kidneys in this country of which only 300 million are needed." It's just a matter of distribution, and that's what markets are best at resolving, he contends.

Jack also points out that there would be billions of dollars in savings from shrinking the dialysis industry if more kidneys were available for transplant. He would be good with putting half those savings into improving children's dental care (the other half would have to go to retiring the national debt). The up-front costs, which would depend on where the market settled, of course, would in the worst case be covered by a single year's savings (or two). Insurance companies would find it more profitable to buy a kidney for a subscriber than to pay for years of treatment. Donors (or 'donors') might have an opportunity to re-start their lives with a capital infusion for a quantified risk.

Moreover, Jack tells me, there is already a free market in human skin.

Is Jack wrong?

Poll

Me and my kidneys

9%2 votes
50%11 votes
13%3 votes
13%3 votes
9%2 votes
4%1 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Who has the numbers? (7+ / 0-)

    I'd love to hear that there is no shortage of healthy kidneys available for transplant right now from people like Jack, but I'm guessing it's not true. Wise me up!

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 05:12:37 PM PST

  •  I've Got One Number for You: It's Major Surgery. (3+ / 0-)

    And it has complications.

    I wonder how it compares to late term abortion?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 05:18:41 PM PST

  •  Why Stop At Kidneys? (3+ / 0-)

    Wouldn't ability to sell all your body parts after death increase the supply and save lives?

    •  Gives new life to the term "Estate Sale." n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, luckylizard

      A tumbrel remark is an unguarded comment by an uncontrollably rich person, of such crass insensitivity that it makes the workers and peasants think of lampposts and guillotines. ~ Christopher Hitchens

      by The Werewolf Prophet on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 05:46:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yours heirs would cherish your memory... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:22:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How about 'approaching death'? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      in the Trees

      For certain terminal patients, an extra $100k or two could make the last year much more pleasant, couldn't it? Should you be able to sell futures?

      Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

      by Clem Yeobright on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:23:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clem - there is no way to determine (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright

        ahead of time that your organs will be useable. However, compensation at death would dramatically increase the supply of available organs and our stupid policy prohibiting any payments should be changed.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:33:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Jack tells me it's HIS insurance (0+ / 0-)

          that will be paying his bills, NOT the recipient's. (In this case, of course, they are both under the same group policy.)

          So it seems the uninsured are basically excluded from becoming live kidney donors ...

          Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

          by Clem Yeobright on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:36:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No Different Than A Reverse Mortgage... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clem Yeobright

          or Life Estate.  The resident could trash the house before they die.  This is a business transaction and all business transactions have risks associated with them.  Each party assesses the risk and pays accordingly.

          This is just a form of price controls which have limited benefits society.  Price controls only work with monopolies or businesses with very limited suppliers like railroads, toll roads, utilities, etc.  Price controls create surpluses and shortages in the markets.  Here it creates a shortage of organs.  I assume that proponets of no organ sales do so because they feel everyone should have an equal chance at an organ.  Personally, I would rather have an organ sitting in a cooler waiting for me to find the money to pay for it, than die while I am on a waiting list for an organ that will never become available.

    •  in the Trees - absolutely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      See my longer comment in this thread. This is the right answer.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:32:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Organ donation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, luckylizard, Bob Duck

    The current system for organ donation makes no sense. I do not favor a free market in organs, however I do strongly support compensation to the families of people who die with viable organs that can be donated. Today no compensation can be offered and because of that tens of thousands of viable organs are not harvested at death. Organ transplant procedures are very expensive, at times as much as $100,000. Offering $2,000 - $5,000 for viable organs at death would not substantially increase the procedure cost, but would significantly increase the supply. Thousands of people die each year waiting for transplants. This is an easy way to make a difference.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:31:03 PM PST

    •  That makes sense, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      although I think there would be a lot of resistance because of the ick factor.  Also, I don't know how you'd keep survivors from auctioning off their loved one's parts, even if that person didn't want to donate.  I'm sure there's a way to structure it so that doesn't happen, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out.

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:37:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  luckyl - there would not be an auction (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright, Bob Duck, luckylizard

        There would be a national fixed price and you always need to decide just before, or at the time of, death because the organs have to be immediately harvested for transplant.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 08:23:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  When I Was A Kid In The 60's... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright, luckylizard

        Their was an "ick" factor about homosexuals.  People change their belief sysems over time.  

        •  In that case, yes, (0+ / 0-)

          but I'm not sure many people are ever going to get to the point where they are comfortable talking about and planning for death.  It's not even so much the organ donation.  People just don't like to think about dying.

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Fri Nov 18, 2011 at 03:00:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  luckyl - is that maybe a recent phenomenon though? (0+ / 0-)

            You are right, but I sorta think the last 2-4 generations in Western culture has had a unique, temporary "pass" on "thinking about dying"

            --- and prior to that, for all of time, people did indeed think about dying quite a bit, wrote and gossiped about it

            it seems to me quite plausible that in future generations it could become a discuss-able topic again, the "ick factor" you mentioned becoming a cultural/historical anomaly

  •  I don't see any evidence for a market (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright

    in human skin..at least not skin from a human being. There is such a thing as synthetic human skin which is product of genetic engineering, apparently.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:32:03 PM PST

    •  Alice - there are difficult issues in using skin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      It is actually easier to transplant organs than skin. Skin has very unique characteristics and is difficult to transplant.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 06:35:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was just responding to the diarists' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        mention that his brother said there was a market in human skin, apparently as suggestion that legalizing sale could work for other organs.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 07:31:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So where do I sign up... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright

    ...for the $50K?

    A quant and damned proud of it.

    by Cera on Fri Nov 18, 2011 at 01:21:48 AM PST

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