IntroductionOrgan transplantation remains the topic of the major social concern. With about 100,000 people waiting for organ transplants worldwide, 16 of them die everyday without any opportunity to get one (Organ Selling, 2001). Against 10,000-12,000 considered medically suitable for organ donation, only 5,200 people find braveness and sufficient resources to become the donors of one or several organs (Organ Selling, 2001), and even where religion supports organ donation as an act of charity and kindness, national and international authorities cannot find a single opportunity to balance the demand and supply for organs.
In this context, trading organs could potentially become viable alternative to traditional organ donation techniques, and although currently illegal, organ trading could save thousands of lives and provide donors with extensive economic benefits. In the situation, when more and more people require organ transplants, and when more and more people die of the lack of transplants, the topic of organ trading becomes an issue of the major legal and ethical concern. Despite the fact that for many trading organs remains an unacceptable practice, it is not as negative as many consider it to be. “Current patients face a choice between two extremes: Wait for a fundamentally broken system and risk death, or venture into the unregulated Wild West of the black market for organs. But there is a better and more ethical alternative” (Stier, 2007). This alternative is expressed via making organ trading legal, and the benefits of such solution are obvious.
First of all, making organ trading legal will finally help to balance the demand and supply for organs. In the United States alone almost 100,000 patients are waiting for their organs, and almost 6,000 people die annually during their wait (Stier, 2007). For example, access to kidney transplants is unequal across different patient groups: black patients are less likely than white patients to be placed on the patient list, and this discriminative attitude is not associated with the distance which black patients have to cover on their way to a transplantation center, but is of pure discriminative nature. Statistically, the blacks are 57% less likely than whites to be waitlisted, which means that such patients do not have any other choice but to address black markets for organs (Science Daily, 2009). Unfortunately, black markets for organs are associated with the major health threats. Geoff Koffman, a transplant surgeon states that those traveling to the developing countries for organs do not know, what organs they are buying, as well as the health risks and complications that may result of transplanting an unknown organ (Hogg, 2002). Here, making organ trading legal could not only minimise health risks, but could also expand patients’ access to organs. At the other side of this continuous debate is the issue of material benefits which organ traders are likely to gain when becoming donors. For example, the average cost of a kidney transplant is ?17,000; the annual cost of immuno-suppression exceeds ?5,000; the cost of a liver transplant is around ?241,000 (NHS, 2007). It should be noted, however, that beyond material benefits which organ donors can gain when trading their organs, organ transplantation is a cost-effective procedure compared to dialysis or supportive liver therapy. That is why the state should be particularly interested in promoting legal donor trading as the means to reduce state expenditures for supportive therapies and to expand the scope of transplantation surgeries as the instruments of cost-effective life saving. Unfortunately, organ trading may lead to discrimination and increased life risks. Due to the fact that some organs can be taken from living people, some countries have already made organ trading legal; but because of the growing poverty trends, and facing a whole set of material challenges, individuals may risk their lives when selling organs or may become the victims of trafficking (Anonymous, 2002). Sometimes, foreign countries engage in selling organs from prisoners for high prices, which is also discriminative and illegal, and for these very reasons organ trading should become legal, to make sure that organ traders know and understand their rights and obligations, and that patients on waiting lists can access organs they need, without being subjected to serious health risks.