Health

'Sell Organs to save lives': Your comments

Organs could be sold. Victor Habbick/SPL

Martin Wilkinson, a visiting professor at Keele University and former chairman of the New Zealand Bioethics Council, argues that selling organs is the way forward.

With the demand for organ donors far outstripping the supply, he believes permitting sale would mean more people could get the organs they need.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments.

Your comments

There is a popular misconception that because you have two kidneys, one of them is just a 'spare'. Most of the older people I have treated (who have both kidneys) have at least some kidney impairment. Although they don't need dialysis, they might not be able to tolerate higher doses of medicines, and are at greater risk of going to into renal failure when they get ill. So imagine what it would be like if you only had one kidney to rely on. Making a decision to donate a kidney has major implications for your health in later life. It is understandable why you would want to do it for a loved one, but it is a major operation, and shouldn't be considered a way of 'earning a quick buck'.

Rebecca, Wiltshire

I've always been puzzled by people who claim that money exchanges hands somehow sullies the business of organ donation. Isn't the business of organ donation to get as many organs as are needed for people who need transplants? Barring illegal activity, I don't think reasonable incentives should be a problem.

Steven, Luton

I found the whole idea totally disgusting. The author says people should be free to sell their organs because they are from their own body and they should have the choice. But what if the choice is sell or starve? With the massive disparity of wealth nationally and globally, any move to allow an 'organ market' would inevitably result in some sort of farming. The rich could live practically forever by keeping others poor and effectively forcing them to sell. No, I think this is awful, there is already too much difference in life expectancy between rich and poor and this would only exacerbate it, providing another reason for greed and amassing huge wealth. Organ donation is a great idea, and could be promoted more. But it has to be a gift, humans can't become 'spare parts' for the few. Market forces, with so many poor, would mean organs wouldn't cost much by the standards of rich people anyway. As for the sorts of crimes that would inevitably develop - truly frightening.

John, Poole

It is not about money. It is about ethics. No price would make me sell any part of this body that has been given to me. It is not mine to sell. It belongs to nature. Money for body parts would only lead to a black market as has been proven in the USA.

John, UK

I think this is a fantastic idea and one which has been long overdue. Gone are the days where we as individuals should not be able to choose what we do with our own bodies. The dire circumstances with which dialysis patients and others are expected to live is appalling. These people have human rights too and should have the power to choose how they regain good health. If this means that another person profits financially then so be it.

Sam, Barnsley

In Greece in the 1960s there was no appetite for freely giving blood as a donor ( almost a 'given' in UK society), so the authorities were happy to buy blood. I recall many foreign backpackers etc queuing at 7.00am outside the hospital in Athens to sell a 'pint' for about five pounds - quite a lot in 1966, and you could do so every two weeks, or weekly if you alternated with Thessalonika. Private hospitals reportedly offered even higher rates, but woe betide the 'dodgy' places that did so but didn't just stop at taking one pint! With every commercial transaction there develops an inherent risk of exploitation.

Phillip, Dorking

I personally, would never ever sell or donate my organs. If I die, I want my family to say no to any doctors asking to harvest my insides. I don't believe that people have the right to extend their life span, we're choking the globe completely! I don't think I would even give an organ to a member of my own family, as much as it would hurt to see them suffer, I would rather they die in dignity than have to endure immune suppressing drugs, painful scars and knowing that they are only delaying the inevitable, for what? More pain at a later date? No thanks.

Lauren, London

I think it's a brilliant idea. I am already on the donor register, but think if I could sell a kidney to save someone else's life I would do it in a flash. If I do not need both, then why should I deny someone else of a life? I think everyone should donate organs when they have passed. I believe that I am no longer in my body, my time is done, so why shouldn't I give someone else a life? It's the greatest gift I could ever possibly give, and just knowing that when I pass, someone else gets to live, it gives me this feeling inside that I cannot explain in words.

Shona, Norwich

I think the worry here is that, once you give something a value, you introduce a criminal element anyway. We've all heard the ridiculous tall tales of tourists waking up in ice baths with missing kidneys, having been drugged in sleazy bars and 'harvested'. Stupid as it is, you have to wonder about legalising something like this - someone will find a way to profit illegally, and far more so than now. Besides, if you need money enough to actually consider selling a part of your body, surely something's gone horribly wrong in your life? I'm all for organ donation, but don't make it sleazy by bribing people - just raise awareness of the benefits of donation.

Amski Mexico City

How many rich individuals do you think, Mr Wilkinson, will sell their organs? And how many poor ones, do you think, will be able to afford to buy? One-way parasitic solutions dressed up as 'the poor's right to choose' is no way forward.

Jamie, Kent

I think that the idea makes perfect sense based on the fact that I have the right to do what I want with my body. My main concern is that it would be hard to poor people to get organs if there was a free market. However, what if the State would pay for the organs? So in that case, nobody could jump the waiting lists, and being rich wouldn't give you a privileged access to a transplant. Altruism is all nice and good, but one has to be pragmatic and explore other possible options that might be more effective at saving lives.

Nahuel, London