There has been increased debate as to whether human organ trade or market should be legalized or not. The trade-in human organs is a sensitive issue because it touches on human dignity and at the same time is a matter of life or death. Organ transplant has been a huge step in the medical field that has saved many lives and has had a huge positive impact in the healthcare industry. It is unfortunate that many of the benefits in organ transplantation are getting further and further from realization due to unavailability of organs. The waiting lists in hospitals are growing longer and longer by the year, and some patients have to be struck off the list because they cannot make it alive to the end of the waiting list. This is a sad situation as Schachter (2011) asserted on average, an individual has to wait up to three and a half year so that they can be able to get an organ transplant. The increasing need for human organs has led to the sprouting of human organ black markets and human organ trafficking across the globe, one of China’s leading countries. Iran is the only country that has legalized human organ market and regulation of the trade in the country has been successful. One of the regulations in Iran is that they do not allow transplant tourism. Human organ trade should be legalized because it will help the survival of many individuals in need of organ transplant, which will improve the health care industry and minimize the socio-economic problems associated with organ transplant.
The first reason why human organ trade should be legalized is that it will help many people who need organ transplants to survive. More survival means less death rates and an improved health industry. A clear distinction should be identified between human organ trade and human organ trafficking. Even though human organ trafficking can lead to saving lives, it is not correct; on the other hand, human organ trade is the right way to save lives. Human organ trade would involve controlled and regulated trading of human organs, while human trafficking involves the use of methods such as deceit or coercion to acquire organs then selling them for financial compensation. The main drive behind any healthcare facility is to minimize the number of deaths that are caused by diseases or injuries. Increase in humankind survival would mean a better healthcare. People who survive in as a result of transplant many of them are breadwinners and important people in the society. Survival of individuals who undergo transplant means reduction of dependability rates in a country. Legalization of human organ market is the right thing to do because it minimizes socio-economic impacts in the society. According to Utilitarian theory, a moral action is one that produces the maximum utility or good for the public (Jihan Lyou, 2008). This theory simply acknowledges that in any decision, there are shortcomings, but if the advantages are more, that action is moral. There is availability of technology and the expertise to support the survival of individuals while undergoing the procedure. Availability of the technology and expertise means that the health fraternity is able to carry out the procedures safely. In the United Kingdom (UK), approximately 500 people on the organ transplant waiting list die annually while this number increases by 8% yearly (Smith, 2011). This means that there is a dire need for action on this matter. Surgeons and Doctors in the health industry have been supportive on legalization of human organ market due to a number of reasons. Medical practitioners state that there is enough knowledge and technology to carry out such critical procedures. Surgeons believe that they can be able to keep the harm and side effects at a minimum while carrying out transplantation procedures.
Secondly, legalization of human organ market will wipe out the existence of black markets. Reduction of the black markets means less trafficking of human organs and reduced coerced human organ trafficking. The poor will no longer be exploited so that they can sell their organs, but they will be able to do it willingly. The prohibition of human organ trade drives up the profit in the black market leading to racketeering in the trade. All of the illegal trades in the world have high profits due to the high risks involved in such trade, e.g. the trade in elephant ivory has become common because of its very high profit, another trade is that of drugs. This is not to imply that such trades should be legalized, but the important thing is that all illegal trades have supernormal profits, and this is a motivation for the trade. The rich will always go to any length to get human organs from the black market for their survival, and this leaves the poor man helpless and most of the time exploited for the sake of the wealthy. Legalization of human trade will not only ensure that there is a decrease of human organ trafficking but also will ensure that the poor get organ transplant services same as the wealthy households. Legalization of the human organ trade will reduce the profits margins in the human organ black markets, making the risk of being involved in the trade not worth it. As stated by Gregory (2011) the best way to ensure human organ trade’s appropriate activity is bringing it to the open by legalizing it.
The third reason why the trade should be legalized is because through legalization, all trade can be managed effectively. Regulations will ensure that no people are exploited nor illegalities are used to conduct the trade. Regulation will hinder collusion to raise the prices and prevent historical abuses in human organ trafficking. For instance, the government can create a national facility or body that will be solely responsible for the exercise. There is the common belief that the cost of human organs will reach a point that it will not be affordable by the ordinary poor man. These claims are unfounded because, just like in any other markets, it will be controlled through regulatory mechanisms. The issue of socio-economic disparity is not avoidable in the sale of human organs because it exists in every aspect of the human species. The human organ trade will strive to reduce the rich-poor gap inequalities through policies, but it will be impossible to assure a zero gap between the two groups. In the real world, the health industry is also affected by the forces of supply and demand. Not all individuals are able to access the best medical facilities and services due to their socio-economic status, therefore human organ trade would just operate in the same way. Most of the financial and socio-economic problems associated with human organ trade already exist and the ones that do not already exist can be regulated. If organ transplant is based on individual autonomy under regulation, then the trade will have a few shortcomings. Even though regulated the trade of human organs should be based on self-ownership. Individuals should be allowed to choose what they want to do with their organs as long as it is within the law. Marketing of human organs should be disallowed in any form, and people should only avail themselves to the government if they are able and willing to donate their organs. Systems should be put in place to cater for both cadaver and live organs. The perception on the sale of organs should not be based on the economic benefit received by the donor, but it should be perceived on its ability to save lives (Goyal, 2002) and its ability to woo people to donate their organs. Governments should not be selective in the implementation of regulations; this is so because there are other trades that are legalized by the government that are even more dangerous compared to human organ trade. One such trade is working in quarries. There are always fatalities in the quarries around the world, and when such people die, they are honored as heroes. Trade-in human organs is always seen as a non-heroic act and abomination by the humankind. The notion behind human organ trade should be discarded, and people should be made to understand that the trade is risky just as any other risky labor activity, and under control, the fatalities can be minimized. If it is a matter of protecting the human species, then the governments have failed tremendously because they have allowed people to practice and consume things that are harmful to their bodies, such as smoking and drinking.
Opponents of legalization of the trade claim that financial incentives to human organ donation would lead to involuntary and less independent decisions (Wilkinson, 2005). The poor will sell the organs that they direly need just to survive and make ends meet. There will be medical centers and facilities that claim they are officially recognized in the procurement of organs making the poor to fall prey. The opponents claim that the poor will be exploited by the rich because of their vulnerability. The poor over centuries have survived by selling most of their precious belonging just to survive because of lack of opportunities and other social injustices that exist in the modern world. Opponents of legalization of the trade should think hard if they think the poor would be the victim of legalization of human organ trade. Most of the people who have sold their organs have been people in abject poverty, but in the majority of the cases, this has helped in their subsistence rather than harm them. It is not morally right to deny the poor the opportunity to sell their organs to prolong their lives whilst the government and society is not able to provide the poor with basic needs such as food and shelter. The poor should not be robbed of their asset provided by nature that can temporarily get them out of poverty or extend their existence. Just like blood can be used to save the lives of others, organs should be traded for the survival of many who are in need.
In conclusion, the legalization of human organ market will help the survival of many individuals in need of organ transplant, which will improve the health care industry and minimize the socio-economic problems associated with organ transplant. The opponents of the legalization of human organ trade base their arguments on issues that already exist in the society that the human race has not been able to defeat. Some of these issues include socio-economic gap, poverty, equality, human dignity, etc. The ultimate principle or core tenet behind medical care is need and no other aspect such as spirituality or justice can defeat it. In medical care, if the needs of people are met, then the other factors are inconsequential as long as they were not at the expense of another person. The organ donation system is based in the need to survive, and if a single organ is able to save a terminally ill individual whilst saving a person in abject poverty, then what other rational reasoning would deny these two the chance of survival. Through proper regulations and control, human organ market can be successful, just like in Iran. The human body is the only source of human organs, and therefore, the optimum utilization of this possibility should be explored.