Marion Barry Gets Set Up with a Kidney



Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry isn't exactly an ideal candidate for receiving a kidney donation. He's a 72-year-old in bad health, with a historical fondness for crack, who (until recently) wanted to keep his illness secret. Two weeks ago, he let the kidney out of the bag in order to dodge time in a federal prison for failing to file his 2007 taxes while on probation for previous tax violations. But when he needed a kidney, he got one:

D.C. Council member Marion Barry was lighthearted about the gravity of his kidney failure when he asked friends whether they would be willing to donate an organ last year.

Faced with yet another health battle, Barry (D-Ward 8) jokingly asked friends gathered at the Channel Inn, a restaurant on the Southwest waterfront, "Would you give me a kidney?" 

Kim Dickens, pictured at right, piped up and offered hers. The healthy 47-year-old wept with joy when she found out she was a match. 

Flabbergasted by her generous offer, Barry may have remarked: "I'll be goddamn…bitch set me up." But, you know, in a good way.

Barry is now recovering from what appears to have been a successful transplant in the hospital. Sadly, very few people in Barry's position are lucky enough to have a massive cast of characters from a long, public life to draw on in their time of kidney need. People die every single day, languishing on the waiting list for organs from cadavers. Too bad buying a kidney from a live stranger (who only needs one) is illegal.

No one makes the case for markets in kidneys better than former Reason editor-in-chief Virginia Postrel, who gave her kidney to mere acquaintance Sally Satel and then starred in a video with Drew Carey about markets for human organs, so I'll let them do it for me:

NEXT: How Do You Like Your Disease Model Now?

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  1. How? I mean . . . how? People die all the time waiting for organ transplants . . . and . . . how? HOW THE FUCK DID HE EVEN GET ON THE LIST!?! WHAT THE FUCK!!!

  2. "...but in a good way!" You're blowing my cover. How am I supposed to pretend to be working when I laugh coffee out of my nose?

  3. Naga,

    If you have someone to donate directly to you, you don't have to be on the list. The list is only for those poor souls waiting around for a healthy person to die my misadventure.

  4. To be fair, from reading the whole transcript, it sounded like he wanted the woman in that hotel room a lot more than he wanted the crack, and he would have been happier screwing without crack rather than smoking crack without sex.

  5. Not that he should have been arrested for anything that happened in the hotel room...

  6. BakedPenguin,

    Huh? What part of he was setup didn't you get?

  7. Fuck yeah you should be able to sell your own body parts. And you should be able to *will* your remains to someone who can make a fucking dime off your dead ass. This is one of the most backward-ass scams in the world. I refused to be a donor in protest to this bullshit. Cremation here I come. If my family can't benefit from my organs, fuck everyone else. Change the laws and I'll become a donor.

  8. Kilroy, I sure hope you are kidding. Yes, the laws are crap (Read Satel's book). Only Congress can fix it now.

    Yes, there should be organ markets. But refusing to allow your organs to be harvested (which should always be a decision available to you, not compelled) will be a death sentence for somebody on the wait list if your perfectly good organs go up in smoke. Killing a sick person isn't the best way to make a point.

  9. One advantage of universal health care is that 72 year old drug adicts won't be getting kidney transplants.

  10. Joe, I'm 100% serious. Sick people vote. I tell every person I talk to about the subject to write their representative and get the law changed. Death and disease cross all party lines and not being able to save your own ass because of stupid laws is a great motivator.

    If everyone switched their donor status to 'No' tomorrow we'd have the laws changed before tax day. Maybe some people would die in the interim but far more would be saved afterwards *and* we'd have better laws.

    When my body belongs to me (alive and dead) I'll change my donor status.

  11. Crack is good for kidneys, right?

    Nothing like saving the life of the guy who screwed DC over for years.

    I thought Jews and Catholics were self-loathing, but blacks may have them beat.

  12. That bitch set him up...

    In a good way.

  13. One advantage of universal health care is that 72 year old drug adicts won't be getting kidney transplants.

    Nay, nay, my credulous friend. Government officials will be going to the head of the line. How hard would it be for a city coincilman to get a concealed carry permit in your nearest big city? How long would it take.

  14. J sub D,
    I figure that 50 years from now, some documentary artist from one of the benighted nations without National Health Care will bring a group of sick people to an American hospital for government officials and comment on how socialized medicine works so well in America.

  15. I think JB has a few problems himself.

    I don't like using the term "wingnut" (I've seen too many lefty trolls use it), but I think it applies to JB.

  16. One advantage of universal health care is that 72 year old drug adicts won't be getting kidney transplants.

    Nay, nay, my credulous friend. Government officials will be going to the head of the line.


    You mean universal health care won't be perfectly fair and all peaches and cream.

    But, but...that not what Obama Claus said!

  17. I'm a wingnut for wondering why people would want to save this evil man?

    I think you are the crazy one.

  18. I was focusing more on the last line of your post.

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