Monday, May 05, 2008

Sell a Kidney?

An Australian M.D. recently proposed that individuals be paid by the government to donate a kidney. The idea is to alleviate the chronic shortage, and the example price given in the news story about this is the equivalent of US$47,000. Possible objections are that this might open the door to organleggers and/or private trade in organs (the poor selling a kidney to the rich).

Maybe I could live with this: If I sell you a healthy kidney, I get a $2 million credit for health care, plus a cash fee. The government would have to organize and administer this, of course. I don’t know where the money would come from. (And maybe a couple million isn’t enough.) I would have to be in very dire straits to consider it.

An alternate proposal is one advanced by my late friend, Dr. Charles Barrett. Doc’s idea was that people facing long prison terms for certain non-violent felonies be given the option of donating a kidney in lieu of serving the term. Assuming they're healthy.

All of which implies another question: should there be financial remuneration for the survivors of organ donors? It would be nice if organ donors could designate a posthumous award to go to a family member or a charity.

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