Sell an Organ, Save a Life

November 13, 2010
By smalltownshorty BRONZE, Amana, Iowa
smalltownshorty BRONZE, Amana, Iowa
2 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
There is something I don't know
That I am supposed to know.
I don't know what it is I don't know,
And yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know
And not to know what it is I don't know.

Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-wracking
Since I don't know what I must pretend
To know.

Therefore, I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
But you can't tell me what it is
Because you don't know what I don't know
What it is.

You may know what I don't know, but not
That I don't know it.
And I can't tell you. So you will have
To tell me everything.

- R. D. Lang in Knots

In America eight million people donate blood each year, twenty-six percent volunteer at least once a year, and the average citizen donates about three point two percent of his or her yearly income. Why do they do this? Is it because they feel like they should help those less fortunate then themselves? Is this only part of the reason, but not all of it? Do people do good deeds out of selfishness? Some people only donate or volunteer for the tax write-up. Others volunteer for foreign volunteer work for the chance to travel to another country. To say selfishness is not a factor in volunteer work, would be a false statement, but at the end of the day people are being helped, so should it really matter what the reasons behind the help really are? One field this is especially relevant in is organ donation. According to the U.S. Department of Health, last year 14,631 people donated organs. As of April of this year 106,759 people are still on the transplant list. For over a third of them, by the time the hospital finds them a match their body will be too weak to take it. There is a lot of debate over whether or not people should be able to sell their organs or be able to be compensated in any way for donating them. The United States currently policy states that they cannot be compensated in any way, shape, or form. But it is like the question before. People already do good for their own selfishness, but at the end of the day the goods still being done. If people want to sell their organs, which would lead to less life loss, why should they not be able to?

In the United States people are able to sell their bodies after they die to medical school and research institutes, and become what is known as a cadaver. If people can sell their bodies for that, why can they not sell them to people in need of an organ to live? One way they could do this would be to set up a system where if someone donates an organ after they die, their burial cost would be paid, and money would be given to their family members. An argument against this is that the person donating the organ will get nothing out of it. But in a way they are. They know that in their death they did not leave a financial burden on their family that they cannot pay, and they know they left something behind them to help those they loved most. If someone is willing to do this, it is no one’s place to say they should not because technically since their dead it will not do anything for them. People are also afraid if families will have a financial incentive to pull the plug, they would be more likely to take someone of life support
or someone in a comma, and donate their organs. Most families would not pull the plug on a loved one just to get some more money. And if the person really did not want to donate a kidney, their family would probably know that more than anyone else would.

Back in the day layaway used to be a big hit, today it is coming back with a vengeance. If someone can put a refrigerator or clothing on layaway, why can a company not do the same with organs? People could sell their organs to a company for either a year or for the rest of their life. If they die within that time period allotted, their organs go to the company that bought them. The company would have to do a risk assessment on the person beforehand on how likely they were to die, and the likelihood of the way they die being one that would leave them with usable organs. They then would pay them an amount, either monthly, yearly, or just one large payment, for rights to their organs after they die. This way the donor would actually see something from the donation of their organs.

Not every organ requires the person being dead to donate it. Many people donate kidneys or lobes of their livers every year, but there still is not enough. Critics are afraid poor people or druggies will be the only ones who donate, and the organs they would donate would be of low quality. Chances are more of the poorer people would be the ones donating, but the doctor would, as always, explain the ins and outs of the procedure and possible risks before the procedure happens. If they are fine with the risks, who should stop them? As for the people who are on drugs, chances are their organs would not be in good enough shape to transplant and would not be accepted by the transplant company. Because, yes, if it became legal brokerage firms would pop up overnight. And like everything in a capitalist society, they would want to be known as the best. Whether it’s the best in terms of price for the buyer or price from the seller, either way, if they’re the ones know for giving out bad organs, no one’s going to buy there.

Critics are also afraid if the selling of organs becomes legal, there would be a huge increase in organ thieves. This is implausible for many reasons. One being they would need a skilled surgeon to remove the organs, and most are already rich enough that they would not to steal people’s kidney in order to buy their Lamborghini. And those who are in financial trouble would know that it would be some serious jail time, and would be scared off. Plus not everyone is a match. It is incredibly hard to find someone that is a match to another in case, but the chances of you kidnapping someone off the street, taking their organ, then finding someone to buy it before it goes bad is completely ridiculous at best. Organs have a shelf-life of hours after their removed from the body, so the thieves would have to already know who their victim was a match with, get that person to agree to pay for it, then lure them close enough to the person to get the organ out quickly, the get the organ into the new buyer quickly. Easy right? To just get this to happen once would be a miracle, and would take months to years of planning, so chances are the person would be better of just buying from a company.

People are already selling their organs on the black market, but if something goes wrong they are out of luck. They cannot go to court if the people they sold it to refuse to pay them. And if something goes wrong, they are on their own to pay for it, and cannot sue a doctor for malpractice. If they tried to do any of these things, they are admitting they broke the law, and can go to jail. Many have died or been severely injured from donating organs on the black market. If the sale of organs became legal, the government would have standards and rules for the donating, and restitution if something goes wrong, and would be able to enforce them. This would make the, already present, business of organ sales safer. And would save not only save the lives of the people getting the transplants, but also the people who are donating them on the black market.

People do everything for selfish reasons. Is that their only reason, no, but it is a reason. It is a reason people do good deeds and it is a reason people do not. Right now if someone donates an organ what do they get, a week in a hospital bed, a hurting stomach, lost wages, and maybe a thank you card. Thousands of people die every year because they cannot find an organ match. If the United States made it so people could sell their organs for profit, many more would give their organs up to those in need of a new one. Many currently want to, but they need the reason, the push in the right direction. Most of the good things in this world come into being from selfishness. Whether people donate for the discount on their taxes, or volunteer to see the world, it does not matter. At the end of the day good is being done, so who cares why. Organs sales are selfish, but lives are still being saved. Most good deeds have hidden selfish motives, but that does not mean they still should not be done. The question that really should be asked is not whether good deeds should be done for selfish reasons, but what has to be done to make sure more people do them. Why should people not give out money to get someone else to help save a life, when it is not too far off from current practices to get people to do other things? Good deeds are still good, even if the reason behind them is not so black and white. This is one case in which the end justifies the means, because what we get is worth so much more than the means. Sell an organ, save a life.

Work cited

"50 Quick Facts | Give Life | American Red Cross." 50 Quick Facts. American Red Cross. Web.

22 Oct. 2010. <>.

Blum, By Debra. "26% of Americans Volunteer, New Study Finds - Today's News - The

Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the Nonprofit World with News, Jobs, and Ideas."

Home - The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the Nonprofit World with News, Jobs,

and Ideas. 27 July 2008. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.


"How Much to Give." Network for Good | Online Giving Made Easy. Network For Good, 2009.

Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

Murphy, Stephanie R. "Eight Ethical Objections to an Organ Market… And Why They’re Wrong

by Stephanie R. Murphy." 3 Jan. 2005. Web. 22 Oct. 2010.


Sayre, A. "Buying Bodies, Stealing Organs." Washington Post - Politics, National, World & D.C.

Area News and Headlines - Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2006. Web.
22 Oct. 2010.


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This article has 1 comment.

on Jun. 24 2011 at 7:07 am
RiverSong BRONZE, Baltimore, Maryland
3 articles 0 photos 100 comments
I agree with your main point, and have one comment to make.  It is already legal to donate organs after you die, for the purpose of transplants.  I happen to know this because of something that happened in my family several years ago.  You probably know it too, but it wasn't made very clear--just making sure you know.  Very well-written.  (And by the way, yes, I'm the same person who commented on your other opinion piece and who replied to your comment on that immigration article. ;D)


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