- Op-Ed: Cops Get Paid for Dangerous Duty, So Why Not Pay Kidney Donors for Relatively Safe Procedure?
Op-Ed: Cops Get Paid for Dangerous Duty, So Why Not Pay Kidney Donors for Relatively Safe Procedure?
Posted Dec 7, 2011 7:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A misguided law banning organ sales is preventing people from getting the kidneys they need and discouraging live donors, according to a nonprofit research analyst who is giving one of his kidneys to a stranger.
Writing for the New York Times, Alexander Berger of GiveWell points to a recent federal appeals court decision to bolster his argument that the law should be changed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco recently ruled that harvesting bone marrow from blood isn’t barred by the language of the National Organ Transplant Act.
“There’s no reason that paying for a kidney should be seen as predatory,” Berger writes. With the 9th Circuit decision, bone marrow donors can now be paid along with those who donate plasma, sperm and eggs and those who serve as surrogate mothers.
“Contrary to early fears that paid surrogacy would exploit young, poor minority women, most surrogate mothers are married, middle class and white; the evidence suggests that, far from trying to ‘cash in,’ they take pride in performing a service that brings others great happiness,” Berger writes. “And we regularly pay people to take socially beneficial but physically dangerous jobs—soldiers, police officers and firefighters all earn a living serving society while risking their lives—without worrying that they are taken advantage of. Compensated kidney donors should be no different.”
Berger says the risk of dying during surgery for a middle-aged kidney donor is about out 1 in 3,000.
He proposes a well-regulated market for kidney donations in which a nonprofit group or the government would buy kidneys and distribute them on the basis of need. Most experts figure a donor could earn about $50,000, Berger says.