Should people be allowed to sell their organs?


Well-Known Member
Jul 3, 2006
I was channel surfing recently and I came across a discussion about organs for sale. The main arguement was should people be allowed to sell their own organs to a hospital for profit.

I think this is an interesting topic to discuss. I have not formed an opinion on the subject myself but I do see the benefits of doing it. I think if people were allowed to sell their organs it would increase the supply of organs in general. Therefore helping more people that may need a new lung or kidney.

Granted you couldn't sell things like livers and hearts but any organ that is not needed or comes in pairs would be allowed to be sold.

My only objection to this would be the moral issue regarding this. Many religions take offense to this as well.

Your thoughts?
I think it is a bad idea and would likely lead to having those who are poor needing to sell their organs for survival. i think we need to do more to encourage organ donation instead. Perhaps offering an incentive (wether cash or something else) for those that agree to donate would be effective and certainly i think more ethical.
I do think that there is already a thriving international blackmarket for human organs, so before forming an opinion on this idea I'd want to consider modes and methods of regulation, as the idea can be rather dangerous.

Also, in terms of bioethics, I would not be sure that this could ever constitute a socially responsible policy. Even with the most stringent of regulations, it will introduce a factor of those people who do not consider the risks and will endanger their own health (or worse, others') so that they might severely compromise their own quality of life. I can see a long trail of litigation from that.

The reason we have "spare" organs are to facilitate function and, presuming optimum physiological health, to provide a buffer to ensure maximum functionality in later stages of life, or certain degrees of functional decline. (E.g. you could theoretically sell half your liver, as to survive you only really need more than 10-15% of it, and if the acinar architecture isn't damaged it will regenerate remarkably well). Implementation of such a policy therefore would require guidelines for mandatory rigorous health checks at the very least. After this, there would also have to be a strictly regulated market for pricing. There would also have to be a monitoring system to make sure that candidates for organ hawking and sold organs are legally obtained.

I am not completely familiar with the prevalence of the circumstances that one might need an organ, but the idea for selling organs for profit seems to me unwise to allow, in that it wouldn't be particularly viable because application could be more problematic than its worth. If this is in response to the problem of organ shortages, then there are other methods of organ production being developed which would prove far cheaper, probably more efficient and less troublesome.
I think the poor would sell them and the rich would be the only ones who could afford them.
You are forgetting that the poor would be given money for their organs. If a kidney was fetching 10-20K, I would say that they are not as poor as they were. It might even lift them completely out of poverty.
I don't think selling kidneys is the appropriate way to lift someone out of poverty. More education, sustainable developement etc would be far better ways.
I agree with you. Education is the key for a better life. The point of the matter is in America people have the right to do what they want to their bodies (tattoos, abortion, piercing, etc...). Don't people have ownership over themselves which includes their organs? Shouldn't I have the say over my body and not you? If I sell a kidney, is that damaging to you or your family and friends?
I do agree people should have the right to do what they want with their bodies but i do think their should be limits. we wouldn't let someone sell themselves into a slave situation for example. I think that this could lead to a very dangerous area and it would become exploitation of those who are poor.

I agree with you. Education is the key for a better life. The point of the matter is in America people have the right to do what they want to their bodies (tattoos, abortion, piercing, etc...). Don't people have ownership over themselves which includes their organs? Shouldn't I have the say over my body and not you? If I sell a kidney, is that damaging to you or your family and friends?
I don't see the logic from going to selling a kidney to becoming a slave. First of all slavery is illegal in practically all first world counties (if not all).

I think you are focusing to much on the negative. What if you had a really rare blood type and someone else with your blood type needed a kidney. You refuse to give it up because there is no gain for you. Maybe a little cash might change your attitude to the situation.

I think it would be a cheap way to get rich (no pun intended) but who am I to tell someone they can't do something. Even more so, when it hurts no one in the process.
I don't think any amount of cash would get me to give up a kidney. I may do it if i cared for the person or some other reason. I think it would only be going after those very desparate.

I am an organ doner though (in the case I die) and i think if some incentive could be made to get more people to join (and thus reduce the shortage in organs) I am all for it.

Also I do consider myself to be somewhat positive in outlook. I only think this would be a bad idea.

I only made the comparison to slavery as someone could theoretically sell themselves as a slave and one could have the same arguement.
Assuming that we own our organs and the state does not, of course it should be allowed.
I think we're placing too much faith in legal and legislative systems here. They're far from perfect and the question in consideration here is not so much "is it right or wrong" by principle but rather just how problematic will it be. Also, if one were to claim that policy ran according to the principles that Brandon evokes, we would be running someting akin to a deregulated libertarianism. The distinction between what affects self and what affects others may be grounds for principles of ethics but really they are much more difficult to distinguish.

Sure, people have a right to do whatever with their own bodies, but people have intimated that the shift in social paradigms would be overall detrimental. As I said the health implications entail a significant degree of irresponsibility.

I'll draw a parallel here to the arguments surrounding euthanasia. It seems nonsensical to me to disallow a person the right to choose to end their life...especially under circumstances of terminal illness. That is, if it were not for various risks of duress or exploitation of lack of autonomy/capacity to make informed decisions. Euthanasia as a way to painlessly cause death sounds fine in itself but its significant potential as a weapon to deprive others of life is a major stumbling block. So too with organ selling. There are many paths to coercing the selling of an organ at the probable cost to quality of life which would be much facilitated by legalisation. Allowing people the free rein that one idealises liberally would also generally presume a level of rationality and consideration and responsibility that we cannot trust people to uphold.
Once I get over my own squeamishness at the idea, I wonder if there really is anything wrong with this. Mechanics aside, it would increase the supply, save some lives and make other lives better. Not that I'm going to advocate for this ability but I can see an up side.
No health care is to easily corruptilbe now. What we would see is people who can afford organs getting them while the poor would be overlooked.

Then they would be auctioning them off to the highest bidder, or god forbid some unemployed man with a family gets deperate and kills himself so his widow and children can get the money from his organs.......

Worst case scenario I know but anything is possible if we allow people to start selling off their body parts.