Every teenager wants to own the newest iPhone or iPad but to save up for those working at the local McDonald’s it would take some time. But in China, you can get it just by selling a kidney. In face according to a BBC news article dated April 6, 2012 five people were arrested for convincing a teenager to sell his kidney in an online chat room for the equivalent of $3,000. The teenager is now suffering from kidney failure, and just for a couple of new toys. The New York Times states on June 29, 2012 that only 10% of the global needs for organ transplantation are being met. The UK Telegraph of May 28, 2012 states that experts are saying that a rise in diabetes and other diseases has led to the increase in demand for human organs and as a result 10,000 illegal transplants, or more than 1per hour a year. Today we are going to analyze the black market organ trade by first looking at the problems with the organ trade, second we will learn about the causes of the organ trade. And finally we will learn how we can fix the problem by implementing some solutions because this issue is no longer just overseas, NBC news, July 11th, 2012 detailed the case of Levy Rosenbaum who pleaded guilty to 3 counts of Illegal trafficking to new jersey Based customers in exchange for payments of around 120,000 a piece. He was sentenced to 2.5yrs in prison. This is the first federal conviction of illegal organ trafficking in U.S.A history.
There are two main problems with the black market organ trade. The first problem is that it affects the poor and the weak. The second is that we don’t have enough organs to supplement the need for transplants.
First, this practice mainly affects the poor and weak. Korea Times, June 4, 2012 states that poor people in crisis-stricken European countries like Spain and Italy are risking illegal organ sales for extra money. A couple of thousand dollars for spare kidney goes a long way in third world nations. An example comes from the previous mentioned article from the New York Times, discussed how a husband and wife put up an article offering to sell their kidneys to get money to raise there kids.
The second problem is that we don’t have enough donated organs, not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well. According to the united Networks for organ sharing website accessed January 25 2013 there are currently 117,000 people on the waiting list for a transplant. However the U.S. Department of health website accessed January 25, 2013 only 79 people get transplants a day. In a Guardian article from May 28, 2012, it states that data from the World health Organization shows that 107,000 solid organ transplants occurred in 95 member states in 2012, both legally and illegally. Even if we had all the worlds’ organs we would still be 10,000 short.
Now that we have looked at the two major problems of the black market organ trade we can now look at two of the major causes. The first major cause is money and the second major cause is laws.
Let’s begin with money first. When you get a transplant whether it be legal or illegal you have to pay a price for it. An article states that kidneys are the most expensive at $262,000 followed by the liver at $157,000 next is the heart at $119,000 is only a tenth of the price of having one done in the U.S. which costs around one million dollars.
The second major cause of the black market organ trade is the laws we have in place. In the previously mentioned Guardian article, Louis Noel a World health Organization official states that it is because of the lack of law enforcement in some countries and the lack of laws in other countries. There is only one country that allows the legal buying and selling of organs, Iran allows people to sell and buy kidneys under the state regulated surveillance of two non-profit organizations but Iranians are not allowed to sell kidneys to non-citizens.
Now that we have discussed both the problems and the causes of the black market organ trade, let’s focus on two possible solutions we could implement. First we well discuss a possible opt out policy, and then we will look at enforcing and implementing laws.
Let’s begin with a possible solution is to activate an opt out policy in each state. Richard Brodsky wants to change the way the New York organ donation system works. He believes that this system could help increase organ and tissue donations. The proposal would require that people be automatically added to the state donor registry unless they opt out when they get a driver’s licenses or state identification card. Richard says his bill has sparked a lot of interest but that he knows both individuals and religious groups have raised concerns. Mary baily a member of the Hastings Center, stated that it’s easy to see this would not go over well with Americans at a time when many are pushing against government control on a variety of other issues.
UCLA professor and medical doctor, Gabriel Danovitch testified before the U.S. House of Foreign Affairs in 2012 that there are several things the U.S. government can do. He begins by stating that the National organ transplant Act or NOTA of 198 criminalizes the buying and selling or organs in the U.S. but says nothing of such practice outside of the U.S. His option states the U.S. citizens returning to the country after receiving an organ transplant whether legal or illegal, should be required to declare so upon their return, and that this would protect public health. A 2nd option that Gabriel suggests is that human trafficking for organ removal should be added to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. All of these can be implemented easily by changing rules in the affordable Health care Act.
So today we have discussed the problems, causes and solutions of the black market organ trade. With an iPad being enough to cause a series of sad events which result in teenagers with kidney failure it must make us question this subject of selling black market organs. Without exposure and examination, the value and participation in this illegal trade will continue. Ultimately, we will be reduced to the worth of our bodies, instead of, free to be a body of worth.