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Monday, March 17th 2008

So Much of the World Has A Market For Organs

Punished…Or Sold

I’ve linked to stories concerning black markets for organs in the past. Now we get a story in the Los Angeles Times concerning such a market in Egypt. And it focuses around a terribly tragic story.

Hamed’s 4-year-old son, Mohamed, was dying of cancer and needed an artery transplant that cost $5,000. The only savings Hamed had was what he fished from his pockets at the end of the day.

There was another way, one whispered about for those with nothing. A man could wager part of himself, slip into a hospital gown, and wake up with an incision above the gut.

Hamed sold a section of his liver for a bit more than the price of his son’s operation. The boy died in surgery.

With his scar healing and his son buried, Hamed, whose knowledge of anatomy would perhaps fill a single page, decided that driving a bus was not the fate of the man he wanted to be. He brokered his first liver deal four months ago. He earned $900. Four more sales have followed.

There are virtually no laws governing organ donations in Egypt. Or so the article makes it sound like.

Mohamed Queita, a member of the Egyptian parliament and the ruling National Democratic Party, has been working for 12 years to pass a law to regulate organ transplants and stop an expanding black market that draws patients from across the Middle East and as far away as Europe.

“It’s the worst kind of business in Egypt. It’s worse than slavery,” says Queita, who has no comprehensive statistics but notes that one Cairo clinic had a waiting list of 1,500 people willing to sell their organs. “I don’t want the poor turned into spare parts for the rich. . . . People are coming from all over to buy organs in Egypt. They’re mainly gulf Arabs. If you’re a rich man from the gulf, you go to a private Egyptian hospital that has contacts with organ brokers. Serious cases of poverty in this country are causing an increase in the theft and sale of organs.”

The emphasis is my own. This kind’ve paternalism is just wrong. There are terrible, horrific stories out there but no matter the motives or the life situation that forces someone into selling an organ, it seems something like such is a personal decision without any negative consequences for anyone else. The government has no place regulating such decisions.

It’s real simple – just let people do what they want with their bodies.

It isn’t like western societies’ bans on selling/buying organs are achieving their goals anyway. Protecting the poor? Maintaining some ‘equality’ in the distribution of limited organs? Nonesense.

You can’t make direct payments, but those with resources are still open to bettering their odds of getting an organ by doing everything just short of paying the previous owner of the organ.