J Med Ethics 2003;29:138-139
Discussion of the sale of organs is overshadowed by cases of exploitation, murder, and corruption. But there is also a serious ethical issue about whether people should be allowed to sell parts of the body. It applies not only to organs, such as the kidney or parts of the liver, but also to tissues, such as bone marrow, gametes (eggs and sperm) and even genetic material. The usual argument in favour of allowing the sale of organs is that we need to increase supply. In the US, as few as 15% of people who need kidney transplants ever get a kidney. Cadaveric organs will never satisfy the growing demand for organs. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, die while waiting for a transplant.
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