I recently discovered that I have a highly desirable blood type.
I’m not a squeamish person and I don’t really care about needles or blood so when the Red Cross called to see if I could donate some of my prized AB- I said, sure, if you need blood to save people I will donate it when it is convenient for me. However, after talking logistics, I realized that it would not be convenient at all, it would actually be pretty burdensome to become a regular donor. Their center is located in a very high traffic area, so I’d have to drive there during their business hours and pay for parking. Being reasonable, I asked since they wanted me to do them this uncomfortable favor if they could at least make it value neutral to me by sending an Uber for me to come donate. No, they can’t do that because you can’t incentivize someone donating blood or an organ.
If there’s a blood shortage and you need my blood and the procedure to regularly get my blood comes at my personal inconvenience it makes perfect sense that there’s a blood shortage. Similarly, it’s hardly surprising that on average, 18 people die every day because the demand is greater than the supply. If we were allowed to provide an incentive for blood and organ donations, I’m guessing this would put an end to blood shortages and lengthy transplant lists pretty quickly.
Here’s a few arguments against taking blood and organ sales off the black market, and why I think they’re wrong.
“You shouldn’t get paid for blood donations, you should do it out of the goodness of your heart.”
Sure. But if this approach worked, there already wouldn’t be a problem. The fact that not everyone has the blood/organs they need proves that we need to provide an additional incentive.
Consider the pharmaceutical industry. You could say that pharmaceutical companies that find life-saving medicines should do it out of the goodness of their hearts and their workers should not ask for a salary, or for people to pay money for their research. But then, of course, no one would enter this field, there would never be innovation, and life would be pretty bleak. Incentives, not altruism, is what makes the world go round.
“This would create a culture in which disadvantaged people sold organs while privileged people did not have to.”
This approach assumes that disadvantaged people cannot think, speak, or act for themselves, that we must make their decisions on their behalf. It’s your body, you own it. You aren’t inflicting harm on others. You should be able to make your own decisions. We already accept this logic in other areas of the market, like the military.
“People would kill people to sell their organs.”
People are already in possession of other desirable items: money, cars, etc. This isn’t a game changer in that regard. Also, I think a doctor could tell the difference between a person who willingly gives up an organ and a person who arrives at the hospital with a bloody cooler and says “here, put this in me!”
“Rich people would be able to afford organs and poor people would not.”
Bro, where do you even live? There’s already tons of medical treatments that rich people can buy and poor people cannot. This is a valid concern, to be sure, but if we already accept this with other kinds of treatments, we can’t use it as an argument against an organ market.
I can’t see any objections to legal blood and organ sales that aren’t nullified by the fact that we allow these same kinds of variables to happen in the market already. Poor people take dangerous jobs because they need the money, the pharmaceutical industry innovates because it is paid well to do so, and we already accept that inherent in an economically diverse society is the potential for crime.