Why Can’t I Sell My Kidney?

[T]he recent conviction of a New York man for brokering the sale of black-market kidneys has economists and the general public alike rethinking the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act.

As is so often the case with government intrusions in markets, the 1984 law has had the opposite effect of the one intended. Instead of protecting people (especially low-income individuals) by ensuring that the kidneys they receive or donate are done so “morally,” the law has effectively increased the death rate from organ failure and made it illegal for the poor to improve their lives through the sale of a kidney. Moreover, contrary to widely accepted conventional arguments on the subject, free-market sales of bodily organs can actually lower their effective prices.

Full post by Kathryn Shelton and Richard B. McKenzie worth reading. HT: David Henderson.

Comments (5)

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  1. Paul H. says:

    There isn’t any good reaon why you can’t sell your kidney.

  2. Matt says:

    This should be repealed. The government shouldn’t tell me what to do with my kidneys, dangerous or not. Of course, it doesnt surprise me that the legislation makes the act more dangerous than it would be otherwise. I can imagine that congress did not study the economics of organ harvesting fully before passing a sweeping piece of legislation that would affect hundreds of millions of Americans.

  3. marvin says:

    Nope. It just ain’t right to sell body parts.

  4. Brian says:

    Even if it’s “not right” to sell body parts, it’s legitimately up to the individual to decide if they are going to sell their body part. Government should only regulate so as to make the practice safe, not determine whether it should be allowed or not.

  5. Joe Barnett says:

    Most of the need for kidneys can be supplied from people who die from traumatic brain injury — it is just that family members, doctors and hospitals need the rignt incentive to provide permission and match the donor with the donee. By creating a market, it is likely that more total kidneys would be donated (for free or a tax deduction) than are currently — just as we have donated blood and purchased blood (plasma). The same system, with higher pay, could be applied to livers too: a lobe of a healthy liver from a live donor can save the life of someone needing a transplant.