Free the Market for Transplantable Body Organs

by Don Boudreaux on February 17, 2014

in Health, Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen

Many excellent analyses have been done to explain why freeing the market for transplantable body organs would be a tremendously positive move toward a more humane – and healthier – society.  Lloyd Cohen, for example – a GMU colleague of mine from over in the law school – has done great good work in this area.  So has Sally Satel.  (And here’s a short essay that University of Michigan law professor Adam Pritchard and I wrote in 1999 on this matter.)  But this letter in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal cuts right through to one vital consideration in favor of allowing organ donors to be paid market prices for their organs:

Why is it morally OK for everyone in the process to be paid for their time, talent and expenses except the one person who makes it all possible? Hundreds of thousands of dollars go to surgeons, anesthetists, hospitals, etc., for a transplant procedure, but it’s morally reprehensible for the donor to receive a dime?

It’s time for the altruists to get over themselves. We cannot afford the price of their convictions.

Gary Ludwick

Huntersville, N.C.

Do realize that the current prohibition on organ donors being paid to donate organs (that they are perfectly free to donate for free) is, in effect, a price ceiling of $0.00 on donate organs.  I leave it to Cafe patrons to determine what this price ceiling does to the market value of transplantable body organs – and what a lifting of this price ceiling will likely do to the prices that transplant surgeons and hospitals can charge for their transplant services.

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