The Arguments for and Against Sale of Human Organs
Sale of human organs is a popular topic of ethical discussions that exhibits a polarized debate that offers no compromising solution. Moral dilemmas involved in the sale of human organs make up its ethical issue (Shaheen, 1987). The arguments for and against sale of human organs have justification through moral principles however; no argument is fully accepted.The improvement in the health technology has necessitated transplant of organs such as the kidneys. Organ transplants have been on the rise especially in the 21st century. Increased rate of organs transplants has resulted to shortages of organs supply. Most people nowadays are not willing to give out their organs for free as it was before. Many people are not willing to give away their organs for free, most opt to sell them. Some surgeons are advocating for the UK government to legalize the sale of human organs (Jone, 1999).
Legalizing the sale of human organs in UK will reduce instances where UK residents are forced to travel abroad to buy organs for transplant from the black market. The illegal buying of these organs makes many UK patients who undergo these operations abroad have to undergo the same operations once again when they get back home because of the poor operations they receive (Goddard, 1992). This discussion uses the utilitarianism theory to address the issues related to legalization of the sale of human organs. After addressing these issues, appropriate recommendations on the strategy that the UK government should use when legalizing the sale of human organs are advanced. This discussion is based on the article titled ‘Legalize sale of human organs to end ‘transplant tourism’, say surgeons” by Clare Bates (Bates, 2011).
The utilitarianism theory states that the right course of action is the action that brings maximum good. The theory uses the nature of outcome of an action to judge the moral worth of the action. The act of utilitarianism states that before making any choice, one should weigh the consequence of each action and settle for the one that is more likely to give the greatest pleasure (Mill, 2009). The rule of utilitarianism involves first determining the potential outcomes of an action. It advocates that in order to determine the right rule to apply in a certain situation, one should consider the effects of its prolonged use. The rule suggests that if the rule results to more happiness than it were initially due to its prolonged use, then it is a rule that should be followed always (Mill, 2009).
An organ is a body tissue that aids in the general operations of the body. Many individuals in the modern world are unwilling to legitimize the obtaining of vital body organs. Moreover, buyers are willing to obtain organs in the black market illegally and immorally. They normally take advantage of the financially weak individuals to obtain these organs. The individuals who sell their organs do so because the society has failed to meet their daily needs. The great advancement in medical technology has aided organ transplant. However, unqualified professionals still carry out most organ transplants.This leads to massive loss of life in the process. Nowadays, the high increase in organ transplants globally is affected by low supply of the organs. This shortage has hindered many individuals from receiving the required medication that are vital to save their life or greatly improve their quality of lives. The acts of selling organs in the modern society are dehumanizing. Moreover, it is against the moral values advocated for by the society. Opponents argue that the behavior is against the ethics of life as envisaged in the constitution. They point out that most at times a life that could still be okay is often lost in the process.
The restrictions on the sale of human organs in many countries such as UK and Canada have caused access of these organs in these nations difficult. The U.S. government has legalized the sale of human organs and blood. Thus, the nation has been successive in supplying their patients with adequate blood for transfusion purposes and organs for transplants (Jone, 1999). Adequate supply of these organs in the U.S has enhanced the lives of many individuals and saved many lives. In a contemporary society like the USA where the sale of organs is legal, individuals have morally accepted the trade. This is because the sale has been of more good than harm to the citizens. The sale of human organs is right in their view because it has helped many people live better lives. The formulation of sound legislation to guide the transplant processes was core to this realization. In addition, these policies are been viewed by the society as a sole reason of saving peoples’ lives. This has enhanced the overall happiness in the society. The recovery of the patients who receive these medications makes them to assume their day –day –activities that enable them contribute positively to the economic progress of their nations. In nations where the sale of human organs is restricted, the ethical view is quite different. There is a strong conviction from the public that it is immoral to trade with other peoples’ organs. The societies normally have strong human rights bodies who strongly oppose the sale.
The society has build a notion that if need be, an organ should be given out in good faith to an affected party without attaching any monetary value to it. This has nurtured harmonization and selflessness on the part of the citizens. From the proponents of the sale of body organs, they argue that the restriction has led to less supply of these organs. They advocate for its acceptance pointing out that it has led to lack of happiness to the people affected by the loss of their loved ones and eventually overall unhappiness to the society at large (May, 1977). Therefore, they are concerned that governments should legalize the sale of human organs to increase their supply such that everyone is in a position to receive them when such need arises, as long as one can afford them. The sale of human organs is thus ethical as it enhances access of these organs to those patients who need organ transplants. Individuals in the society who are in need of body organs and are able to access the vital parts support this view. Their recovery helps them live happily with their beloved, some of who are opposed to their act of purchasing the organs and fulfilling lives, which could not have been possible without receiving the organs necessary for the organ transplants (Bates, 2011).The society supports its aggrieved citizens by legalizing the trading of organs. This is acceptable in the contemporary society as it fosters happiness amongst its needy citizens.
In addition, the sale of human organs has helped many people receive some money to supplement their strained budgets at one moment or another. Many people are nowadays living in great distress due to the current increased cost of living. The income that many people receive is not sufficient to take care of the many bills they have to settle. Therefore, when given an opportunity to exchange their organs at a fee, the money they receive helps them greatly to supplement their stressed budget. This makes them happy since they have earned an extra coin that could enable them to purchase something extra that they could not have been in a position to buy otherwise. Therefore, legalizing the sale of organs should be the first thing that all governments should consider implementing, since it is associated with many positive outcomes; both to the receiving and the donating persons (George, 1984).
Some people argue that since these organs are very valuable as they determine the survival or death of the patients who receive them, they should not be offered free to total strangers, but instead patients should pay for them. This perception is very ethical since one should not give out his/her organ and be left suffering and in most in instances where the donating person is not well financially. To recover the blood lost while undergoing the operation, the person is required to feed well and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are costly to such a person. To compensate for that loss and to ensure that happiness to both parties is guaranteed, the person receiving the organ transplant should pay for the organ received such that the one donating can get money so that they can afford to eat the recommended diet. Good dieting will help their health not to be affected negatively.Moreover, good nutrition will discourage unhappiness by the donors, a situation which is not in line with the theory of utilitarianism which considers actions as being ethical when their outcomes are associated with increased happiness (Jone, 1999).
The selling of human organs on the other hand can become dangerous if not well regulated. This is because legalizing the sale of human organs can result to some organizations that venture into this enterprise selling contaminated organs that will greatly affect the health of the patients who receive such organs. Many organizations management are unethical and they can go to any extent to make money. Thus, the sale of contaminated human organs by such organizations is not a surprise. This will compromise the health of the public. The ultimate result for such trade will be loss of life and other health effects. The government and opposition legislators need to chip in to address the situation that might be affecting the society negatively. With the victims left fighting for their lives, there is no good that for the society to enjoy. Selling of such organs can culminate to very unhappy situations since in many instances it will result to more complications to the patients who receive such organs (Shaheen, 1987). Such circumstances will also result to a situation of unhappiness to the relatives of the patients who receive contaminated organs, despite them paying huge money while purchasing these organs. In such situations, the theory of utilitarianism does not hold, and thus would consider selling of human organs as an unethical conduct since the action leads to an overall unhappiness (Kwenye, 2011).
Opponents of the sale of human organs argue that the selling of human organs is perilous if not well regulated. They point out that some people can opt to kill others to get their organs and sell them to earn a living. Such situations can be very dangerous because many lives can be sacrificed in pursuit of lives of very ill patients who might not eventually survive, despite receiving the transplants (Rinehart, 1993). This is a valid point because some will seek to earn a living even illegally, which is very immoral and unethical. In accordance to morality, the action of killing a healthy person in order to save the life of an almost dying person is not right. This is because the chances of survival of the ailing person are usually minimal as compared to the chances of living of the healthy person. Moreover, even if that life is saved, it is at the expense of another individual. This is relatively unacceptable as it is inhuman and goes against the right to life. Right to life is constitutional provision and it is illegal to deprive individuals of their life. Therefore, the probability of occurrence of a double tragedy in instances of the loss of the two people is very high. When this occurs, it results to a situation of aggravated mourning that deprives the happiness of individuals affected and the happiness of the society at large (Fern, 1987). The act emphasizes on individuals making good choices by first weighing the prevailing choices. In such a situation, the best choice to settle for is sparing the life of the healthy person, but not sacrificing it in a situation where the chance of the ailing person surviving is minimal. When people kill healthy and innocent people to sell their organs to ailing people for transplants purposes, then the idea of selling of human organs becomes unethical (Mill, 2009).
The sale of human organs, as already discussed, seems to be a very controversial issue to arrive at a consensus. Despite ones school of thought, it is obvious that the sale of human organs is generally immoral and inhuman though beneficial (Bates, 2011). The reason behind this is that selling human organs has greatly assisted many ailing people, who could have assumed very desperate living conditions or who could have died, recover and contribute positively to the well being of the society. On the other hand, sale of human organs attracts several unethical practices, including killing for the organ. These through proper legislation will address the immoral activities practiced by a few to meet their selfish needs. Moreover, the sale of human organs should entail enacting appropriate policies to regulate it and ensure that the policies implemented are well monitored to curtail the adverse consequences that can accompany legalizing of the sale of human organs. Through a legitimate process, the sale of human organs will be ethical and save life since it will result to greater happiness. Thus, the UK government should consider enacting appropriate polices to legalize the sale of human organs.
List of References
Bates, C. 2011. Legalise sale of human organs to end ‘transplant tourism’, say surgeons. Web.
Fern, C. 1987.The life and death questions of an organ market. Fortune, pp. 108-118.
George A. 1984. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of organ sales, Hastings Center Report, Vol.14 pp. 22-23.
Goddard, H. 1992. No easy way to figure costs of transplants, The Medical Post, 7, P. 43.
Jone, D. (1999). Ethical and legal issues in the supply of blood products. Web.
Kwenye, Z. 2011.The case for a human organ futures market. Web.
May, E. 1977. Human existence, medicine and ethics. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, Ch. 7.
Mill, J. 2009. Utilitarianism. London: Cambridge University Press.
Rinehart, D. 1993. Sold for organs, risk to kids grows, The Edmonton Journal, 14.
Shaheen, B. 1987. Morality and marketing human organs, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol.6, pp. 37-44.