Monday, April 03, 2006


Every year in America, thousands of people die while they wait for an organ donation which never comes. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people die with perfectly good organs which could save lives, but are not used.

China has a solution to this problem. There are more than enough organs available in China, and many people go to China to buy organs which they can't get in other places. China gets these organs by killing people accused of political or religous crimes and taking their organs.

Other countries mandate that organs be harvested from anyone who dies with useable organs.

In America, we don't do things that way. We believe in freedom and individual rights, not tyranny or total government control. A person's organs belong to that person, and can not be taken away against that person's will. But there is something we can do to eliminate the shortage of organs.

Allow individuals to leave their organs to their estate.

The estate could then sell the organs at a price determined by the free market. This would encourage people to allow their organs to be used, because it would benefit their own family in addition to benefiting the organ recipient.

Some might object to this based on the idea that it would make organs unaffordable. The reality is that it would not. Organs are already sold at market price, only now the company who harvests the organs pockets the money generated. What claim does that company have on the value of the organ? They should be compensated for the cost of harvesting the organ, but the organ itsself belongs to the donor. The price for organs is determined by supply and demand. If the supply increases, the price will decrease.

Other people might have ethical problems with the idea of a person selling his organs to benefit his estate. The company which currently sells the organs doesn't have an ethical problem with that. They profit handsomely from it. But your organs belong to you. They are your property. The definition of ownership includes the right to sell your property. If you own your organs, there is no ethical problem with selling them after you die. There is a much greater ethical problem with burying the organs in the ground and letting someone who needed those organs die.

This is a win-win proposition. It allows an individual to help their own family and help someone in need of a new organ at the same time.

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