A Market for Your Kidney

Should selling your kidney be legal? This is a question that raises many ethical concerns and is often debated.

                A market exists whenever there is a group of existing or potential buyers and sellers for a certain good or service. Markets are unorganized interactions between these buyers and sellers, and they follow the laws of supply and demand. In the United States, it is illegal to buy and sell kidneys even though there are plenty of prospective sellers as well as a huge number of buyers. It was made illegal by the National Organ Transplant Act passed in 1984.

                Currently, in the United States, in order to obtain a kidney for a transplant, a patient is placed on a waiting list with an average wait time of about one year. The only way they can bypass this is if someone such as a relative agrees to donate a kidney directly to them. There are a number of people who donate their kidneys towards the list; however there isn’t much incentive to do so.

In 1999, someone attempted to sell their kidney on eBay; however the bidding was stopped by the company after reaching a price of $5.7 million. Ignoring ethical issues, a free market in kidneys would be beneficial to society as a whole. Currently the supply of kidneys is very low while the demand is very high, so based on the law of supply and demand the price of a kidney is very steep. Many people, including myself, would be more than willing to sell their kidney for upwards of several million dollars. However, if this kidney trade was made legal, the price of a kidney would reach a reasonable price which would be fair for both the buyer and the seller. The people who want to sell their kidney for several million dollars probably wouldn’t be the sellers in this type of market. Instead, the market would comprise of sellers who want to help someone by giving their kidney but want some sort of compensation for their deed. People charging ridiculous prices for their kidneys would be unable to sell them when others were offering much more reasonable prices. In this way, people in need of transplants would benefit greatly from a much bigger pool of available kidneys, while those in need of extra money would be able to give up a kidney and better their standard of living. With a free market in kidneys, it would make sense that the transplant process would become cheaper as well with new innovation to deal with the larger number of transplants.

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  1. Disturbing…but it’s always nice to hear arguments I’ve never considered before.


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