Medicine

Aussie Doc Proposes $47,000 per Donated Kidney to Relieve Chronic Shortages

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An Australian doctor has proposed that the government pay up to $47,000 for kidney donations to overcome a chronic shortage.

The suggestion has touched off debate around the country on the idea, which critics say will end in the poor selling their organs to the rich.

Kidney specialist Gavin Carney says allowing the sale of organs would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in care for patients on transplant waiting lists.

He also says it would stop people from buying organs on the black market in developing countries, where they pursue risky, unregulated surgeries.

And the predictable response from the Aussie medical establishment, despite the country's low rate of donation? Don't even think about it: "The idea was dismissed by Health Minister Nicola Roxon, who said Australians would not be allowed to market their organs.

A few weeks ago, reason.tv host Drew Carey looked at how open markets in human organs would make everybody involved much better off.

Check it—and a ton of relevant resources—here.

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  1. Kidneys!

    Come get yer’ kidneys here!

    Get em’ while they’re hot!

    While the idea of selling you’re organs would do a lot of good, I don’t think I like the idea of the government setting the price for them.

    It wouldn’t be long before the Aussie government starts using “eminent domain” to make up for organ shortages? Think they’ll get a “fair market” value?

  2. Oh yeah. Who would want the poor to sell their organs to rich people? Then, you know, they might not be poor anymore 🙁

  3. My standard organ selling comment:

    The day it becomes legal to sell my organs, I will sign my donor card and donate them upon my death.

    But as long as they refuse me the right to sell them, I refuse to donate them.

  4. robc: word

    man, if i were to receive 47k for a kidney…i think i would do it within the next few months.

    i mean….christ! i only need a half of one! for a poor student in germany 47k would drastically improve my life

  5. It’s perfectly legal to sell one’s hair, correct? The intellectual leap to kidneys is not so great. It’s purely an emotional hurdle, the most difficult kind to surmount.

  6. Yeah, but that’s 47,000 AUSTRALIAN dollars, mate. That’s less than 44,000 REAL dollars! Dont’ sell yourself short!

    CB

  7. The suggestion has touched off debate around the country on the idea, which critics say will end in the poor selling their organs to the rich.

    I’m a little unclear on how the government paying for kidneys will result in the poor selling their organs to the rich. A little help here?

  8. critics say will end in the poor selling their organs to the rich

    They say that as if it’s a bad thing.

    Yeah, but that’s 47,000 AUSTRALIAN dollars, mate. That’s less than 44,000 REAL dollars!

    Not for long. I used to give Canadians a hard time about their “dollars” snicker, snicker. That’s coming back to bite me now.

  9. To be fair, I haven’t heard much kneejerk reaction of the sort alluded to in the article. The criticism has mostly centered around a couple of more reasonable points:

    – The donated kidneys would be from people desperate for money, which would raise problems with kidneys damaged from drug use etc

    – Donations of kidneys now would increase the donor’s chances of kidney problems later in life, which would require government money to fix. Whatever the merits of public healthcare, a public system is what we have in fact got and it needs to be managed as such. I suppose donors could sign waivers excluding them from kidney-related public health treatment.

  10. Also, Roxon is not the “medical establishment”. She’s a politician and successfully made the most politically popular statement. The medical establishment would be represented by the AMA. I haven’t heard their take, but I imagine they’re agin it.

  11. I’d sell a kidney in exchange for the following:

    1) $20,000 cash.
    2) All medical expenses paid.
    3) Insurance policy to cover any kidney-related problems for the rest of my life.
    4) Spot near the front of any waiting list if my remaining kidney fails.

  12. Assuming the proposed payment is $47,000 Aussie dollars US ($44,020.20) I would expect many that are above the poverty line would let the spare kidney go. I am not overly fond of my right one anyway. Make it tax free and the lines forming will need to be policed.

    Since everbody seems to be worried about poverty stricken minorities, how about we limit spare kidney payments to white people above the poverty line (family of 4, >$21,200)? Then watch the same paternalistic folks howl.

  13. ChrisV | May 5, 2008, 10:40am | #

    Also, Roxon is not the “medical establishment”. She’s a politician and successfully made the most politically popular statement. The medical establishment would be represented by the AMA. I haven’t heard their take, but I imagine they’re agin it.

    She’s Minister of Health, how much more power over medicine do you need to be ‘medical establishment’?

    She’s also a Labour politician, which means that she is ideologically opposed to people making money.

    Personally, I’m not sure I could be persuaded to part with a kidney for any amount of money. I keep thinking that there must be a reason that we evolved with two of them.

  14. Personally, I’m not sure I could be persuaded to part with a kidney for any amount of money. I keep thinking that there must be a reason that we evolved with two of them.

    We also evolved with an appendix. There’s a reason for it, but evolution overequips and underequips many species in many ways. Evolution is not intelligent.

  15. This is socialism taken to its most evil conclusion. Saving lives is not nearly as important as making sure that everyone as an equal chance of dying.

    Taktix – Eminent Domain is based on the fact that property in the US is based on English common law – you don’t really own your property, the king does and he’s gracious enough to let you use it in return for “services”. I’d like to say the state has no claim on your body but they do have a century of precedent to the contrary.

  16. We also evolved with an appendix. There’s a reason for it, but evolution overequips and underequips many species in many ways.

    I recently heard that scientists now believe the appendix is there to provide a vault to keep a safe sample of intestinal flora (bacteria) in case the flora within the intestines are wiped out by something (e.g., poison, intestinal virus or other invader) so they can repopulate the intestines when they’re able to.

  17. She’s also a Labour politician,…

    No, actually, she’s also a Labor politician.

    Although they normally follow the British spelling of the word when it comes to the naming of their formerly* socialist party the use the American version.

    *I say “formerly” since Rudd is pursuing more fiscally prudent policies than the conservative coalition ever did. How long the party base tolerates cuts in spending and reduction of public employment is a different matter.

    Yes, nationalization of the means of production has gone the way of those other old bastions of the old Labor Party, the White Australia Policy and cracking down on poofters.

  18. Paying for organs would save thousands of lives every year in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no reason to think Congress will legalize this in the foreseeable future.

    Fortunately, there is an already-legal way to put a big dent in the organ shortage — allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative approval is required.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren’t willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs

    Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don’t have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at http://www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

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