What's wrong with selling kidneys?

June 13, 2008

Doctors in this week's BMJ debate the issue of selling kidneys.

A regulated system of compensation for living donors may be the solution to the growing shortage of kidneys for transplantation, writes Arthur Matas, Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota.

In many areas of the United States the average wait for a transplant from a deceased donor is five years, but in some parts it is as long 10 years. Because of this the annual death rate for suitable transplant candidates has risen from 6.3% in 2001 to 8.1% in 2005.

Current unregulated systems in developing countries only benefit the rich, and provide no long term donor follow-up, or protection for either buyer or seller, he says.

In contrast, Matas argues, a regulated compensation system in the Western world would increase the number of available organs. Such a system would provide strict control and limit harm by allowing every candidate an opportunity for transplant, full donor evaluation, informed consent, long term health follow-up, with payment managed by the government or insurance companies, and the banning of any other commercialisation.

We already compensate people for sperm, ova, surrogate motherhood, and loss of body parts in court cases without any loss of dignity or humanity. Similarly, Matas concludes that we should allow a trial of compensation for living donation to learn if we can increase the number of kidneys while protecting the dignity and humanity of the donors.

But Jeremy Chapman, from the Centre for Transplant and Renal Research in Sydney, argues that this could reduce the supply of all organs.

He believes that the idea of the regulated market is a myth, which could have devastating consequences on the less easily regulated environments of Asia and Africa.

According to Chapman, selling organs does not help lift people out of poverty. In India and Pakistan people sell their kidneys to pay off debts, but they continue to live below the poverty line, and recent data show that 86% report deteriorating health after organ removal.

In addition, he asks, which family member would donate if the government is willing to pay for a kidney? Many would prefer a stranger rather than a family member to take the risk. What's more, if a kidney is worth money before death, then rather than donating, families may demand money for all sorts of organs after death.

The reality of regulated organ purchase will be a reduction in organ donation, and the destruction of kidney, heart, lung, liver, and pancreas transplantation, he concludes.
-end-
Contact:
Professor Jeremy Chapman, Centre for Transplant and Renal Research, University of Sydney, Westmead, Australia.
Tel: +61 419 751 656
Email: jeremy_chapman@wsahs.nsw.gov.au

BMJ

Related Poverty Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 second wave in Myanmar causes dramatic increases in poverty
New evidence combining surveys from urban and rural Myanmar and simulation analysis find COVID-19 second wave dramatically increasing poverty and food insecurity.

Advancing the accurate tracking of energy poverty
IIASA researchers have developed a novel measurement framework to track energy poverty that better aligns with the services people lack rather than capturing the mere absence of physical connections to a source of electricity.

If you're poor, poverty is an environmental issue
A survey from Cornell researchers -- conducted among more than 1,100 US residents -- found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents
Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide.

New index maps relationships between poverty and accessibility in Brazil
Poor transportation availability can result in poor access to health care and employment, hence reinforcing the cycle of poverty and concerning health outcomes such as low life expectancy and high child mortality in rural Brazil.

Repeated periods of poverty accelerate the ageing process
People who have found themselves below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others.

Poverty as disease trap
The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration.

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children
Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Read More: Poverty News and Poverty Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.