Should there be an incentive structure in place for the sale of human organs?

Minnesota Public Radio

This is fourth in an occasional college debate series hosted by Today’s Question where we invite debate clubs to frame and guide the day’s discussion. Positions taken by the debaters don’t necessarily reflect their views.

For this series, we welcome members of the University of Minnesota debate team to defend or challenge the argument for the sale of human organs.

Defending the argument is Clayton Carlson, a senior majoring in political science and global studies at the U.

Legalizing and regulating organ sales in the United States would save lives and respond to the organ shortage while quelling some of the dangerous conditions caused by the illegal organ market.

Compensation for organ donation has always been a contentiously debated issue, but one that has seen increasingly stronger evidence in favor of it over the past few years. Massive organ shortages exist currently and will only get worse as time goes on and solutions to these problems have been unsuccessful at best. Organ donors are few and far between, at only around 17,000 for the over 110,000 people currently awaiting transplants, and someone on the organ donation list dies every 90 minutes. Altruism has clearly not solved the problems of massive organ shortages in the US, but allowing organ sales on the free market might. Studies have shown that compensating donors would massively increase the amount of organ donors in the US while quelling the dangerous illegal market for organs that already exists.

Although there is overwhelming evidence supporting the need for organ sale legalization, many worry about ethics related to the sale of parts of one’s own body. Recent studies, however, show that concerns over exploitation and commodification have little or no merit and are certainly not enough to justify not saving the lives of the people waiting on the registry for a kidney or a heart. The illegal organ market will exist and endanger lives regardless of legalized organ sales, the question isn’t whether or not we should legalize and regulate it, it’s a question of how many lives we are willing to risk while we wait. Continue reading