Even More Kidney Blogging, Cont'd
by Virginia Postrel • Nov 22, 2006 at 12:42 am
That medical journal headline is a typo--it's supposed to read "action"--but we can hope. An excellent editorial in The Economist makes the case for organ markets. And in an article in the new American magazine edited by Jim Glassman, Sally Satel looks at some possible market structures (skip to the numbered points--unless you're a new reader, you've seen the rest before).
Although the law theoretically allows for payment of lost wages and other direct expenses, under current policy living donors almost always wind up taking a financial hit even if all goes well. Here's a story about Rick Gardner, a Wisconsin nurse who gave a kidney to a stranger, inspired by what he'd witnessed on his job.
Or consider Wendy Lake, a Montana woman who recently gave a kidney to her ex-husband, from whom she's been divorced for 21 years, and wasn't able to her Wal-Mart job as quickly as she expected. As reported here, her daughters and friends organized a fundraiser to help her with the bills. If you'd like to help, you can make a donation to the Wendy Lake Benefit Fund, Mountain West Bank, 12 3rd St. N.W., Great Falls, MT 59404-2869, (406) 727-2265.
Most kidney patients--and the friends and relatives from whom they're likely to get organs--are of relatively modest means. Prohibiting organ sales doesn't "help the poor." It hurts poor kidney patients, by keeping them on dialysis and shortening their lives. It hurts poor relatives of kidney patients, by forcing them to choose between saving their loved ones and taking financial and health hits. It hurts poor, healthy would-be donors by depriving them of economic opportunity. If you don't want poor people to sell their kidneys, give donors with big income tax breaks or college-loan forgiveness, so that only the affluent will get the money. Let Ivy League grads sell their kidneys instead of their eggs. But don't just prohibit compensation.
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