If I can borrow $100 million at 20% interest, I can buy a hospital ship, anchor it in international waters, and begin selling kidneys. I can set up a database to match donors to recipients, broker sales, and fly in experienced transplant teams. If I charge $200,000 and earn 10% on each transaction, the break-even quantity is just 1,000 transplant each year. This represents about 1% of the potential demand in the United States alone.Now the Wall St. Journal reports that since the waiting list has grown to six years, there is growing support for lifting the federal law that led to the shortage:
Dr. Matas, 59 years old, is a Canadian-born physician... [has]...been traveling the country trying to make the case that barring kidney sales is tantamount to sentencing some patients to death.
The federal ban on organ sales dates back to 1983, when Virginia physician Dr. H. Barry Jacobs proposed buying kidneys -- mostly from the indigent -- and selling them to whomever could afford to buy. His plan was met with widespread outrage. In Congress, then-Rep. Al Gore (D., Tenn.) introduced legislation banning the sale of organs. The bill became law in 1984.