Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Should the trading of human organs be allowed?

Start Time:
Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 10:30am
End Time:
Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 6:00pm
@theeconomist on Twitter Tues 6th July, 10am EST / 3pm London time


Where do you stand? Join us on @theeconomist on Twitter for lively discussions on a wide range of current issues.

Next up: Should the trading of human organs be allowed?

The Economist's advertising campaign in the UK asks readers to think about where they stand on a number of issues and we are inviting Reader's to share those thoughts via discussions on Twitter. The first issue discussed was on drugs legalisation followed by the pros and cons of governments collecting samples of everybody's DNA. More details of those discussions can be seen at the bottom of this panel.

Our next topic for discussion asks if human organ trading should be allowed?

Join us on Twitter @theeconomist on Tuesday 6th at 10am Eastern / 3pm UK time to discuss. Follow with #WDYS

Points for and against the case are listed below along with references to some of the articles The Economist has written on the subject.

-There is a desperate shortage of organs. Around 1,000 people die in Britain alone each year waiting for transplants

- in 1988, Iran changed the law to allow people to sell their kidneys. Within three years, the country no longer had a waiting list for kidney transplants

- Banning the sale of organs drives the trade underground. That makes transplants riskier for both donors and recipients

The British Medical Association says that allowing organs to be traded would put pressure on poor people to sell

There are alternatives. Countries in which people's consent to donating their organs is assumed unless they opt out have shorter waiting lists

Legalising the trade in organs would turn the human body into a commodity. That is taking free markets too far

So, where do you stand?



We've created a suggested reading list on referencing articles from around the web on the subject:

You can also relevant Economist articles by clicking on the links below (a subscription may be required)

Organ transplants
The gap between supply and demand

Organ transplants
Your part or mine?

1 comment:

Dave said...

As the death toll from the organ shortage mounts, public opinion will eventually support paying for human organs. Changes in public policy will then follow.

In the mean time, there is an already-legal way (in the United States) to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required.

Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Non-donors should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

David J. Undis
Executive Director