Around 4,500 people die in the United States each year because they do not get a kidney in time. The fact is that under the current system, there are simply not enough kidneys to give to all those that need them, which means that many die after spending years on the waiting list. There is a solution for this that has been surrounded with moral controversy. That is, allowing for the free buying and selling of kidneys on an open market. There is only a single nation that has actually legalized this process: Iran. The rest of the world’s nations continue relying on the donation system, which seems to be far less effective.
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According to Saeed Kamali Dehghan in The Guardian, “there is no shortage of the organs [kidneys]” in Iran due to the free kidney market. What the free kidney market means is that people who have two kidneys can sell one of them to someone who needs a kidney. It is essentially a win-win situation since one person gets a kidney, and the other person gets money. While it may seem that losing a kidney is a huge price to pay, people can actually live perfectly healthy and normal lives with just one kidney, and many Iranian people have capitalized on this fact.
Lower-income individuals can especially use the kidney market as a way to support their families and make some extra money, which can be extremely useful. Additionally, since most nations have a black market in the kidney trade, legalizing the market moves the operation above ground, which makes it safer for all parties involved and easier to regulate.
Some worry that if kidneys have to be obtained through payment, then only the wealthy will have the means to purchase kidneys, leaving the poorer individuals to die without access to kidneys. In order to solve this, governments can cover the cost of buying a kidney for lower-income people, just as Medicaid covers the cost (or part of it) of health insurance in the United States. Since the financial remuneration would be more appealing to those who have less money, others argue that there will be a great disparity between how many lower-income and wealthy individuals are selling kidneys, which could exacerbate inequality. However, since kidney vendors receive an income from the sale, they would actually be improving their own economic conditions, which could help to increase equality.
Even though most nations remain opposed to a free market in kidneys, there are many good reasons to seriously consider it. Simply the number of lives that could be saved is enough of a reason to legalize it, in my opinion. I think that we should follow closely what happens in Iran with regards to the kidney trade and see if a similar system could be successful in our own nation!
"Living Kidney Donors Network Mission." Living Kidney Donors Network. Living Kidney Donors Network, n.d. Web. 06 July 2017.
Gongloff, Mark. "45 Million Americans Still Stuck Below Poverty Line: Census." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 06 July 2017.
Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. "Kidneys for Sale: Poor Iranians Compete to Sell Their Organs." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 27 May 2012. Web. 06 July 2017.