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I'm not dead yet!

By Absolutely ·
From the Ayn Rand Institute:

Human Organs for Sale?
The right to buy and sell organs is included in the right to life.

By David Holcberg

As athletes from around the world gathered for the 2005 World Transplant Games in the city of London, Canada, a record 87,000 individuals who did not share the athletes' good fortune stand on the U.S. national waiting list for organs. Of the 82,000 waiting for kidneys or livers, about 6,000 will die in the next twelve months. Yet no one is considering a simple way to save many of these people: legalize trade in human organs.

Let's consider it.

Millions of Americans have exercised the right to give away their organs by signing organ donation cards. But very few made the legal arrangements necessary to ensure that their organs can be harvested after death. Many more would make such arrangements if their families were to be paid for the donated organs. It may work as a type of life insurance for the benefit of the deceased's family and would create a mutually advantageous situation: the deceased's family gets needed money while the transplant patient gets a vital organ.

A few people, on the other hand, may choose to sell an organ (or part of one) during their lifetime. This may seem like a radical idea, but it need not be an irrational one.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the extraction of a section of liver, for example, carries a risk to the donor's life of less than 1 percent--not negligible, but not overwhelming. In the case of a kidney donation, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the risk to the donor's life is even smaller: just 0.03 percent. Moreover, liver donors can usually count on their healthy liver?s ability to regenerate and regain full function. And donors of kidneys usually live normal lives with no reduction of life expectancy.

A person may reasonably decide, after considering all the relevant facts (including the pain, risk and inconvenience of surgery), that selling an organ is actually in his own best interest. A father, for example, may decide that one of his kidneys is worth selling to pay for the best medical treatment available for his child.

But those who object to a free market in organs would deny this father the right to act on his own judgment. Poor people, they claim, are incapable of making rational choices and so must be protected from themselves. The fact, however, is that human beings (poor or rich) do have the capacity to reason, and should be free to exercise it. So long as a person respects the rights of others, he ought to be free to live his life and use his mind and body as he judges best, without interference from the government or anybody else.

Of course, the decision to sell an organ (or part of an organ) is a very serious one, and should not be taken lightly. That some people might make irrational choices, however, is no reason to violate the rights of everyone. If the law recognizes our right to give away an organ, it should also recognize our right to sell an organ.

The objection that people would murder to sell their victims' organs should be dismissed as the scaremongering that it is. (Indeed, the financial lure of such difficult-to-execute criminal action is today far greater than it would be if patients could legally and openly buy the organs they need.)

Opponents of a free market in organs argue as well that it would benefit only those who could afford to pay--not necessarily those in most desperate need. This objection should also be rejected. Need does not give anyone the right to damage the lives of other people, by prohibiting a seller from getting the best price for his organ, or a buyer from purchasing an organ to further his life. Those who can afford to buy organs would benefit at no one's expense but their own. Those unable to pay would still be able to rely on charity, as they do today. And a free market would enhance the ability of charitable organizations to procure organs for them.

Ask yourself: if your life depended on getting an organ, say a kidney or a liver, wouldn't you be willing to pay for one? And if you could find a willing seller, shouldn't you have the right to buy it from him?

The right to buy an organ is part of your right to life. The right to life is the right to take all actions a rational being requires to sustain and enhance his life. Your right to life becomes meaningless when the law forbids you to buy a kidney or liver that would preserve your life.

If the government upheld the rights of potential buyers and sellers of organs, many of the 87,000 people now waiting for organs would be spared hideous suffering and an early death. How many?

Let's find out.

David Holcberg is a media research specialist at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. The Ayn Rand Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand--best-selling author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism.

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I thought harvesting without permission was the main counter argument

by Absolutely In reply to I'm not dead yet!

Holcberg says that such a concern is "scaremongering". I tend to agree, but I didn't anticipate that people would object on behalf of people who are supposedly too stupid to decide for themselves whether to risk their life, and to calculate the risk.

When I first read the title, I thought "Now he's gone too far! Wouldn't that invite murder?" Then I thought, people wear $10000 Breitling watches, which are much easier to sell illegally than an organ that will always be uniquely identifiable by DNA. There are just so many items that are so much easier to remove from a corpse and sell that it seems astronomically improbable that allowing organ trading would incite a single murder, or even assault.

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Well I saw a documentary

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to I thought harvesting wit ...

about some guys operating in ablbania, being paid for medical experimentation and waking up back home with large scars and missing bits of themselves. It all got highlighted when they agreed to remove a chaps left kidney for a substantial some of money, not 'realising' a competitor had already removed the right one.

I wonder if you could auction your own body parts on Ebay and would you have to give discounts if you weren't a careful owner ?

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Known Space

by john.a.wills In reply to I thought harvesting wit ...

There is a widespread problem of organlegging in Larry Niven's Known Space series, notably in the Flatlander stories.

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noone who's had their liver taken out by us has lived

by Oz_Media In reply to I'm not dead yet!

While I'm not dead yet works well, I think a more appropriate MP sketch would be from the Meaning of Life, where they turn up to remove a liver from a live donor because he fille dout an organ donors card.

Mr Bloke: Don't worry dear, I'll get it!

[He opens the door.]

Mr Bloke: Yes!

First Man: Hello, er can we have your liver...?

Mr Bloke: My what?

First Man: Your liver... it's a large glandular organ in your
abdomen... you know it's a reddish-brown and it's sort of -

Mr Bloke: Yes, I know what it is, but I'm using it.

Second Man: Come on sir... don't muck us about.

[They move in.]

Mr Bloke: Hey!

[They shut the door behind him.]

[The first man makes a grab at his wallet and finds a
card in it.]

First Man: Hallo! What's this then...?

Mr Bloke: A liver donor's card.

First Man: Need we say more?

Second Man: No!

Mr Bloke: Look, I can't give it to you now. It says 'In The Event
of Death'...

First Man: No-one who has ever had their liver taken out by us has

[The second man is rummaging around in a bag of clanking

Second Man: Just lie there, sir. it won't take a minute.

[They throw him onto the dining room table and, without
any more ceremony, start to cut him open. A rather sever
lady appears at the door.]

Mrs Bloke: 'Ere, what's going on?

First man: He's donating his liver, madam...

Mr Bloke: Aarrgh... oh!... aaargh ow! Ow!

Mrs Bloke: Is this because he took out one of those silly cards?

First Man: That's right, madam.

Mr Bloke: Ow! Oooh! Oohh! Oh... oh... God... aargh aargh...

Mrs Bloke: Typical of him. He goes down to the public library -
sees a few signs up... comes home all full of good intentions.
He gives blood... he does cold research... all that sort of

Mr Bloke: Aaaagh... oh... aaarghh!

Mrs Bloke: What d'you do with them all anyway?

Second man: They all go to saving lives, madam.

Mr Bloke: Aaaaargh! Oh... ow! Oh... oh my God!

Mrs Bloke: That's what *he* used to say... it's all for the good of
the country, he used to say.

Mr Bloke: Aaaargh!... Ow! Ooh!

Mrs Bloke: D'*you* think it's *all* for the good of the country?

First Man: Uh?

Mrs Bloke: D'*you* think it's *all* for the good of the country?

First Man: Well I wouldn't know about that, madam...we're just
doing our jobs, you know...

Mr Bloke: Owwwwweeeeeeeeeh! Ow!

Mrs Bloke: You're not doctors, then?

First Man: Oh!... Blimey no...!

[The second man grins and raises his eyes as he digs
around in the stomach. They laugh. A head comes round the
door... It's a young man.]

Young Man: Mum, Dad,... I'm off out... now. I'll see you about

Mrs Bloke: Righto, son... look after yourself.

Mr Bloke: Aaargh... ow! Oh... aaargh aargh!

Mrs Bloke: D'you er... fancy a cup of tea...?

First Man: Oh well, that would be very nice, yeah... Thank you,
thank you very much madam. Thank you. [Aside.] I thought she'd
never ask...

[She takes him into the kitchen... shuts the door. She
bustles about preparing the tea...]

You do realise... he has to be... well... dead... by the terms
of the card... before he donates his liver.

Mrs Bloke: Well I told him that... but he never listens to me...
silly man.

First Man: Only... I was wondering what you was thinking of doing
after that... I mean... will you stay on your own or... is
there someone else... sort of... on the horizon...?

Mrs Bloke: I'm too old for that sort of thing. I'm past my prime...

First Man: Not at all... you're a very attractive woman.

Mrs Bloke: [laughs a little] Well... I'm certainly not thinking of
getting hitched up again...

First Man: Sure?

Mrs Bloke: Sure.

First Man: [coming a little closer] Can we have your liver then?

Mrs Bloke: No... I don't want to die.

First Man: Oh come on, it's perfectly natural. Only take a couple
of minutes.

Mrs Bloke: Oh... I'd be scared.

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Well no one's going to want yours Oz

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to noone who's had their liv ...

after that diatribe I can only assume you've got the output of two chemical labs salted away in there.
And here's me thinking I had a monopoly on that sort of behavior.

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Think again

by Oz_Media In reply to Well no one's going to wa ...

Look up 'shock value' in the encyclopedia, yup that's me you see on that page!

I figured I'd give up being normal, when I realized the rest of the world was completely screwed. Why swim upstream when you don't need to?

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you're wrong Tony,

by Jaqui In reply to Well no one's going to wa ...

with the pickling that Oz's liver has, whoever gets it is sure to have no problems from liver for the rest of thier lives.

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Oz's liver

by neilb@uk In reply to you're wrong Tony,

Will be just like that of a Strasbourg goose!

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It's strange that I don't remember that sketch.

by Absolutely In reply to noone who's had their liv ...

I think that's my least favorite Python movie, and I haven't watched it recently. But it seems like I'd remember that one.

Anywayz Oz, choose a side and throw down. I like arguing with you. Or against you, either one! You're more spirited than most that are as knowledgeable, and more knowledgeable than most that are as spirited in debates here. Have at thee, knave!

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I don't personally care myself

by Oz_Media In reply to It's strange that I don't ...

If when I die they can use any spare bit, let 'em. If they keep them in a cardboard box and 100 more people die, well I'm dead too, so deal with it.

While I'm here, my life is dedicated to making my world and the world of thos earound me a better place to live. In fact it's pretty damn cool as it is, when you just sit and enjoy it instead of constantly trying to figure it out.

Sure i want my lifetime to include making the world a great place, or at least preserving the great place it already is of course. But when I'm dead.....I'm dead. Sorry can't help you anymore, thanks for the beautiful lifetime and the great places I got to see etc. But I'm dead now, plant me, fry me, eat me or deal me out to others like a deck of dog-earred cards, I'm out.

Have my guts for garters, use my liver to discover new ways to save people, give it to my neighbour for her mantlepiece. Again, I'm dead, have 'em, you really think you need to buy my dead and 'beaten' heart, go for it, someone will always appreciate your money. You want to let them rot on a shelf while others die, go for it, someone is bound to appreciate NOT having my body parts in them.

As for Ayn Rand, no thanks. I think it's about time SHE was made to donate her orans while living instead. Perhaps start with her brain, if it can be located somewhere near her ego. I would fetch a pretty price at the Smithsonian's dinosaur exhibit I'm sure.

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