Helping others deserves profit

Bo Gemmel

We can “donate” our sperm, eggs and plasma in the United States and profit from it. The companies that purchase these products use “donate” as a euphemism to make the concept of selling bodily material sound more acceptable.

When we’re forced to go to an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, they ask if we would like to “donate” our organs in the event of a life-terminating catastrophe. The BMV, of course, uses “donate” in the literal sense: “to present as a gift.”

I’ve always found my love of capitalism supercedes my love of altruism: if one person is willing to pay me for something as expendable as my semen, then surely somebody else would pay even bigger bucks for products as precious as my organs.

The United States outlawed the sale of organs with the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984. Some reason rests in this law. It does prevent the desperate lower class from turning into products for purchase. If Americans were allowed to sell their organs while alive, the poor would be pressured into doing so in hopes of living more comfortable lives.

On the other hand, criminalizing the act of selling organs creates unregulated markets. As with prostitution and marijuana, a black market for organs is present and growing in the United States.

We can easily reach a compromise to protect the dignity of the living while also giving them the autonomy to do what they wish with their organs and tissues after death. The United States should legalize the sale of organs of the deceased while restricting the sale of organs from living donors. This will decrease pressure on the lower class and allow the profit from the sale to benefit whatever the deceased request in their wills. states that there are 101,246 patients awaiting transplant as of March 30, while only 27,958 transplants occurred in 2008. Legalizing the sale of human organs will entice healthy people to help others, even if the motive is profit.

A free market is a much better tool for bringing those with cash to those with products than the current transplant system. We should keep our current donation-based system and supplement it with a business-based system.

Organ donation is already like any other business. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, secretaries, janitors and just about every other hospital employee profits from the transplant surgeries. The people who transport the organs from the donor to the recipient profit. The only person who doesn’t profit is the person who produced the commodity in the first place – the donor.

Consider this if you still find the idea of selling organs outrageous: Imagine if a group of 1,000 Kent State students, faculty, staff and alumni die this year. Let’s say half of their wills stated that they wanted their organs and tissues to be sold with the profit going to Kent State. If insurance companies or the independently wealthy dish out $100,000 per organ, this university would have many fewer financial issues to worry about.

Bo Gemmell is a junior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].