Nanny State

Man Demands Return of Kidney, Redefines "Messy Divorce"


A man in from Ronkonkoma, New York, gave his wife a kidney during their marriage. Now she wants a divorce, and he wants his kidney back (or $1.5 million in compensation) as part of his divorce settlement. And you thought your divorce was bad.

Soon-to-be-divorcé and one-kidneyed man Richard Batista probably won't get any compensation though, because legally speaking, our organs have no value. They can be given as gifts, but never bought. For opponents of organ sales, it would be a dangerous precedent indeed to set the value of a kidney in divorce proceedings. But it's not likely to happen.

From the article:

Medical ethicists agreed that the case is a nonstarter. Asked how likely it would be for the doctor to either get his kidney back or get money for it, Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, put it as "somewhere between impossible and completely impossible."

First and foremost, said Robert Veatch, a medical ethicist at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics, "it's illegal for an organ to be exchanged for anything of value." Organs in the United States may not be bought or sold. Donating an organ is a gift and legally "when you give something, you can't get it back," he said.

Obviously, actual removal and return of the kidney is not in the cards, not least because finding a doctor willing to do that kind of violence to the hippocratic oath would be no easy task. But it's pretty clear that the kidney is an asset that Richard brought into the marriage, no? 

Via commenter sixstring

Extra points to the commenter who writes a relevant and metrically correct limerick which begins, "There once was a man from Ronkonkoma…"

For lots more on who owns your body parts, read Kerry Howley here and here.