Legalization of Organ Sales and the Black Market

The 21st century has experienced a robust increase in technology and novel advances in the medical field. It is possible to transplant human organs and tissues from one individual to another. These innovations have restored hope to ailing patients who have had dysfunctional organs. Patients can receive healthy organs from donors and enjoy a quality, healthy life. In the past, patients who suffered from organ dysfunction would experience a painful and difficult time, especially if the health experts could not restore their health. Ultimately, the majority would succumb to organ failure and face an early death. Losing a close family member or relative because of a failed organ is heartbreaking, but the situation is more painful when such deaths could have been prevented. The current advancement in medical technology has led to successful organ transplantation, increasing the demand for vital organs amongst patients. Opponents hold that donors should give their organs freely to deserving patients without coercion or intimidation. However, this paper argues that the legalization of human organs sale is justifiable since many lives could be saved.

Patients with dysfunctional organs have endured much suffering and incurred expensive medical procedures such as kidney dialysis because of the lack of a legitimate market where they can buy and sell human organs. Consequently, many people have suffered from escalating hospital bills, and others have died of organ failure while on the patient’s transplant list. In the US, over 8000 individuals are on the transplant list, and of this, 500 patients succumb to organ failure annually (Hart et al., 2019). If proper legislation is put in place, a legally regulated market could be established, and human organs could be readily available, saving more lives. Additionally, this process would ensure that more live organ donors are available, translating to an increased number of organs with a longer life span than cadaver organs. The compensation given to the donors will also be regulated if governments legalize the selling and buying of human organs to curb the exploitation that has always prevailed in the black market. Disadvantaged families would also use this opportunity as another option to obtain money and improve their livelihoods.

A legally regulated market for buying and selling organs and tissues would solve a lack of available organ supply. Monetary compensation given to the donors would mean that more people will be willing to donate their organs. As a result, the patient’s transplanting list will drastically reduce or even disappear, and ailing individuals will take a shorter time in getting a perfect match for their organs. Moreover, hospital bills would reduce significantly because patients would not spend weeks, months, or years suffering in hospital beds while waiting for a willing donor on the transplanting list. Commercial trading of human organs is prohibited worldwide, except in Iran (Moniruzzaman, 2018). The country has established a kidney program that gives compensation to donors. Consequently, the country’s kidney transplanting list has been managed effectively because donors are always willing to give their kidneys for compensation. Medical experts continue to urge other governments across the globe to emulate the Iranian system since this aspect would save more lives.

The black market has grown significantly because of the shortage of human organs and tissues. Selling and buying human organs is illegal; individuals who have dysfunctional organs obtain them from the black market due to desperation. This market is unregulated and poor people who want to make quick money end up risking their lives. The wealthy individuals in society have always exploited the less fortunate in the black market. When less privileged people engage in this black market business, they use poor health facilities to donate their organs, thus putting their lives in danger (Moniruzzaman, 2018). Governments should monitor this unethical practice to ensure that the poor and disadvantaged individuals are not exploited. Some reported cases reveal that sometimes donors are kidnapped, dragged, and their organs extracted without their consent. In such a case, these unwilling donors are not given proper compensation, and their lives are put at risk because the medical procedure involved is poor and hazardous. The cost of human organs in a black market is extremely high, and only the well-to-do in society can afford them.

Transplant tourism has forced patients to travel from different locations to countries where the needed organs are found. The primary source of organs used in this medical procedure is the black market, thus endangering the donor’s life and the recipient (Ely, 2019). The sale of organs in a legitimate market could ensure that the lives of the donor and the recipient are safe. Patients would be saved from the agony of traveling from one country to another in search of organs and the pain of waiting for a long period on the transplant list. Transplant tourism only benefits the wealthy because they can afford to foot all the bills involved, such as flight charges to destined countries, meals, accommodation, and the exorbitantly high human organ prices in the black market.

Although establishing a legitimate market would lead to the commercialization of the sale of human organs, this may not significantly influence the poor and less fortunate individuals to sell their organs to eradicate poverty. Primarily, people from developing countries have been selling off their organs to the rich through the black market (Amahazion, 2016). Although sound government policies may curb the increased exploitation of the poor, buying and selling human organs will continue in this market. This is because most organ sellers will continue to come from third world countries, while buyers from developed countries, and therefore legalization of this entity will help cement the rights and privileges of the less fortunate in the society.

Additionally, the sale of organs may positively change the lives of the poor in society. Commercialization of organs such as kidneys may fetch some good cash to the donors thus impacting their lives for the better. One major challenge of organ harvesting is that it is done in unhygienic conditions, particularly on the black market. Through the legalization of the sale of organs, most donors who experience health complications and suffer from deteriorated health status, thus using the money they received from the black market to foot their medical bills will be protected from this menace. Donors should not become poorer and disadvantaged than they were before when they donate organs to save other peoples’ lives. Notably, some people who sell their organs end up investing their money into good use and enjoy the proceeds (Cherry, 2015). As a result, they improve their living standards, and therefore their organs remarkably change their economic well-being.

When organs’ sale is legitimized, proper mechanisms and policies would be put in place to ensure that the poor do not get lured into selling their organs because of the high prices attached to them with little regard to their health and the risks involved. Money should not be the driving force in a commercial market where buying and selling of organs are allowed but rather the zeal to save lives (Alpinar-Şencan et al., 2017). The black market brokers would be eradicated through this legalization process and the donor’s health and well-being would now be considered. Qualified medical practitioners would now be charged with carrying out these surgical procedures which are so delicate and demanding during organ harvesting thus ensuring the safety of the donors. Additionally, when legalizing the buying and selling of human organs, the government should introduce a health and life insurance policy that will cushion the donors against the long-term side effects that may result from invasive surgical procedures during organ harvesting.

Legalizing organ sales is justifiable because of the many benefits to the donor and the recipient. With proper policies in place, donors will be well compensated, and many people will be willing to sell off their organs. Consequently, organ supply will skyrocket, and patients will take a shorter time to get a suitable match for their organs. Additionally, more lives will be saved, and the transplant list will grow thinner by day. Traditional organ supply by altruistic donors has proved to be insufficient and inadequate. This paper has argued that the legalization of organ sales would save patients the pain and agony they go through in hospital beds, and the escalating hospital bills will also be tamed. While opponents of this issue may have genuine concerns, the benefits of legalizing it far outweigh its demerits. As the donor enjoys some monetary gains, the organ recipient will also get relieved from unnecessary suffering and escape a possible early death.


Alpinar-Şencan, Z., Baumann, H., & Biller-Andorno, N. (2017). Does organ selling violate human dignity? Monash Bioethics Review, 34(3), 189-205.

Amahazion, F. F. (2016). Human rights and world culture: The diffusion of legislation against the organ trade. Sociological Spectrum, 36(3), 158-182.

Cherry, M. J. (2015). Kidney for sale by owner: Human organs, transplantation, and the market. Georgetown University Press.

Ely, E. W. (2019). Death by organ donation: Euthanizing patients for their organs gains frightening traction. Intensive Care Medicine, 45(9), 1309-1311.

Hart, A., Smith, J. M., Skeans, M. A., Gustafson, S. K., Wilk, A. R., Castro, S., & Israni, A. K. (2019). OPTN/SRTR 2017 annual data report: Kidney. American Journal of Transplantation, 19(2), 19-123.

Moniruzzaman, M. (2018). Against a regulated market in human organs: Ethical arguments and ethnographic insights from the organ trade in Bangladesh. Human Organization, 77(4), 323-335.

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