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Newsnight

Cash-for-kidneys?

  • Newsnight
  • 31 Aug 06, 03:34 PM

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The Human Tissue Act which comes into force overnight means for the first time it will be legal for living individuals to donate organs to complete strangers out of purely altruistic motives. However, they won't be allowed to do it for hard cash.

Given the scale of organ shortages in the UK – the waiting list for kidneys alone stands at over 5,000 - and the flourishing black market in transplants overseas, isn't it time we sanctioned cash-for-kidneys?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:48 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Barbara Tucker wrote:

How many people from the developed world have sold one of their kidnsys to someone in the third world? I understand that the vaste majority of sales are from the third world to the developed world. Although it is possible to live with only one kidney what happens to the donor when the remaining kidney is injured or diseased? There is no equity in market forces playing a part. If the rich donor's (assuming such people exist) remaining kidney packs up he can purchase another. It is iniquitous that a poor person probably donates out of desperation. What is civilisation coming to when such potential exploitation is even being considered?
Barbara Tucker

  • 2.
  • At 05:21 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Albert Rowland wrote:

I cannot imagine anyone withholding any organ that could save another's life.
What are their reasons?

Yours sincerely Albert Rowland.

  • 3.
  • At 05:22 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Brian Dukinfield wrote:

Of course the purchase of organs should be possible, provided both supply and demand are both regulated so neither coercion nor queue-jumping are possible.

Altruism will never replace hard cash when it comes to freeing up sources of supply.


  • 4.
  • At 05:30 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

I totally agree with organ donation. Having carried a donor card for over twenty years I just hope that when I eventually die, I will be of some use, however small.
The thought that a part of me could still be alive in someone else is a comforting thought.
One thing is for sure, whatever happens after death our remains are just that, remains, so much dead flesh.
If anyone has the foresight and common decency to donate their organs no one else should be allowed to stop this happening.

  • 5.
  • At 05:46 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

One of the unacceptable faces of capitalism.
Conversion of one of the most generous of deeds to one of the most sordid.

  • 6.
  • At 05:52 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • ADA EZIRIM wrote:

I am from one of the countries in the developing southern hemisphere and I can tell you that if for any reason donations are made in exchange of cash, there will definitely be a pandemonium because people from my side of the universe are hungry and poor.

Donations in exchange of cash should please never be considered, when you think that man can be desperate, people will pouch others for cash.

Cash for Kidneys? No comment.

The Communist Chinese have been "doing it for hard cash" for decades. No doubt a lot of people died to feed the greed of their masters. This will continue. The "free market" is a sad myth where people are not free -- and in most of the world they are NOT.

  • 9.
  • At 08:34 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Joe Rigby, London wrote:

Obviously someone should be paid for donation. If I’m going to save my mates life the least he can do is slip me a tenner.

  • 10.
  • At 11:13 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Nordin Manan wrote:

Freeing up the market for organ donations is a sensible thing. For one it would reduce the terrible practise of "organ-napping" which is apparently rampant in the poorer Asian countries.

Homeless folks are kidnapped,drugged,organs removed after which they are dumped back into the streets to die from post surgery complications.Of course the younger the organ the better the value. A regulated marketplace for organs is the most humane solution!

  • 11.
  • At 08:00 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • K. Jones wrote:

The old saying, "If health were a thing that money could buy, the rich would live and the poor would die." seems about to come true, if those who would like to see the purchase of organs for transplant made legal have their way.

I think that it is absolutely disgraceful that a person living in the developed world should neglect his health, so that he suffers kidney failure, and then, rather than suffer a lifetime on dialysis, expect some poor person in the Third World, who leads a hand-to-mouth existence, to donate one of his kidneys, thus impairing his health and reducing his life expectancy and the quality of his life, so that he can continue in his unhealthy lifestyle.

While not all kidney patients fall into this category, many do. Excluding external violence and certain diseases, kidneys should normally last a life-time, but those whose lifestyle is such that their liver is put under a strain, usually find that the kidneys cannot cope. No matter how many transplants they receive, if they will not change their lifestyle, then it is back to square one.

It should be remembered that the poor person in the Third World receives a mere pittance for one of his vital organs, the bulk of the fee going to the surgeon and the middle men.

It appears to me that we are becoming a nation of body snatchers! In one breath we complain that the world is over populated, and then say that we should have an infinite supply of replacement organs, so that we can go on living for longer than Nature intended.

I have no intention of donating any of my organs for transplantation. I will probably donate my body for medical research, but, if someone cannot appreciate his own body, he deserves the consequences.

Similarly, when my time has come, I am quite happy to go, though naturally I hope that I will not have a protracted or painful death.

Perhaps these transplant hungry people would do well to make the best of their lives. Others have to live with illnesses and disabilities. Even with these the quality of life in the developed world is still better than in a primitive country with inadequate nutrition, non existent health care, poor housing and sanitation, and where disease is rife.

This brings me to my final point. The donors are likely to be in poor health themselves, if they have had inadequate nutrition, housing and health care all their lives, and may be carriers of many infections and parasites, though not presenting with any clinical symptoms. However, anyone receiving one of their organs would automatically also receive whatever diseases they have. As the kidneys form part of the body's cleansing system, many toxins may pass there from an infected or damaged liver.

To put it brutally - in order for one person to have an extension of life through a donated organ, someone else must die before their time, either in a road traffic accident, in which case two kidneys become immediately available for donation, or by giving up a part of their body which will almost certainly be needed, if the donor is to live a full life span.

If kidneys or any other organs are donated, then that donation must be a gift. If it is taken by force, it is a theft, and if by purchase, it is by guile.

The money needed for anti-rejection drugs is monumental and would be better spent improving living standards in Third World countries.

I feel sorry for those genuine cases, who have done nothing to contribute to kidney disease, but nowadays so many people ruin their health through binge drinking, that they are experiencing degenerative diseases far earlier than before.

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