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A free market for organ donations: when pigs fly



A Free Market in Organ Donations: When Pigs Fly

Who would have thought that? Doctors actually transferred a kidney from a pig to a human, and the operation appears to have been a success (not for the pig, but for the human!). The patient was helped by this transplant and her body did not reject the kidney she received as initially feared.

You’d think the first choice for this sort of thing from the animal kingdom would have been a gorilla or a chimpanzee, since they’re genetically closer to us than our pig cousins, but the doctors undoubtedly knew better than that.

This begs the obvious question: why must we, of all animals, resort to pigs, when we, homo sapiens, all have two of these organs and only need one for satisfactory performance. After all, we, fellow members of our own species, are biologically much more closely related to each other than to any other animal, such as Porky Pig and his brethren.

Why do we have to resort to pigs? This is because there are not enough human organ donors, given the much larger number of people needing such transplants. In the US alone, nearly 90,000 patients are on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. While waiting in line, they have to suffer through kidney dialysis machines, a much inferior substitute. And why is this in turn? This is due to the fact that the law prohibits all payments to donors, except token payments. Young people on donor mobiles (motorcycles) go to the grave with perfectly intact kidneys, while others enter these domains well before their time for lack thereof; Thanks to this cruel, evil, monstrous zero price control law, the two are never allowed to meet again.

One reason for this sad state of affairs is that left-wing ethicists have successfully gained the upper hand with their view that human organs are simply not “commodifiable.” Why not? Who knows? Almost everything else under the sun can be bought and sold, but transferring an organ for profit is simply impossible.

Another justification for the current deadly situation is that if a market for this economic good is allowed, kidney pirates will emerge, who will steal these organs from innocent people and sell them to others. But the current price on the black market is higher than what would apply under economic freedom. How do we know this? Logic and a level of knowledge of supply and demand will demonstrate this conclusion: at this point, supply is much less than it would be if sales were allowed, and the less quantity there is, the higher the price will be.

A third explanation for the status quo in this regard is the fear that the poor, especially in Third World countries, will become paid donors. But this is paternalism, pure and simple. It is clearly unwarranted condescension on the part of the imperialist colonialists in the first world. When these people in the less developed world engage in voluntary exchange, it is because they value the money they receive more than the body part they have to give up. Who are the socialists and regulatory interventionists to say no?

No, the cause of justice requires that people be allowed to buy and sell whatever they want to buy and sell.

Let’s leave the pigs alone and let free enterprise prevail in this small but for some people important sector of the economy. As it should be everywhere in our trading system.

Walter E. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans.