This would solve nearly instantaneously the organ shortage in this country. Economics tells us that shortages are caused by price controls. Well, in the case of organs, the legal price is zero. Unfetter the market and sufficient organs will be humanely supplied. The price mechanism will ensure that, with the price of organs rising to make supply and demand meet.
A market for human organs harvested after death would eliminate such gruesome practices as body parts being harvested from Chinese convicts, or living poor people selling their organs. (It should be legal for living people to sell kidneys and other organs; see this editorial arguing for same from the Ayn Rand Institute. However, a legalized market for advance sales of organs to be harvested after death would likely eliminate such a practice. It would be cheaper to buy organs in advance that are harvested from corpses than it would be to pay a living donor, who requires sophisticated medical care and compensation for pain. Living donors also cannot supply many specific organs such as hearts.)
Legalize advance organ sales and what is likely to emerge naturally is a market for organ futures. An organ future is the right to receive a specific donor’s organs after that person dies. Packages of organ futures could be sold in standardized blocks, and traded on exchanges like any other futures. After all, pork bellies, corn and oil are sold on futures markets. Why not markets for human kidney, lung and heart futures? Investors could buy packages of these securities.
The big benefit of organ futures is their liquidity. The existence of a futures market provides a ready pool of capital available to buy future organ rights from donors, and to sell them to harvesting companies. In turn, when the organs are ready for harvesting, after the donor dies, the harvesting companies would sell organs to recipients. Insurance companies would be active participants in this market, since they could sell organ insurance policies and then hedge them by buying futures.
The futures market benefits both parties to an organ donation, the donor who gets cash today while he is alive, and the organ recipient who would otherwise die if the organ futures market did not exist.
The time for legalized organ sales and an organ futures market is now, not the future. Thousands of people suffer excruciatingly while they wait for organs. Many of them die before they ever get them.
Speaking personally, if I could get paid cash today to carry an organ donation card in my wallet, I
How many people are suffering and dying due to the ban on organ sales?
- Over 95,000
patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant; nearly 4,000 new patients are added to the waiting list each month. U.S.
- In 2006, 3,916 kidney patients, 1,570 liver patients, 356 heart patients and 245 lung patients died while awaiting organs. Total deaths: 6,087.
Source: National Kidney Foundation