Monday, January 19, 2009

Clergy facilitate the movement of kidneys to higher valued uses

With over 100,000 people waiting for a kidney, and only 8,000 supplied by accident victims, the US black market flourishes.
By accident or by design, she believed, surgeons in their unit had been transplanting black-market kidneys from residents of the world's most impoverished slums into the failing bodies of wealthy dialysis patients from Israel, Europe and the United States. According to Scheper-Hughes, the arrangements were being negotiated by an elaborate network of criminals who kept most of the money themselves. For about $150,000 per transplant, these organ brokers would reach across continents to connect buyers and sellers, whom they then guided to "broker-friendly" hospitals here in the United States (places where Scheper-Hughes says surgeons were either complicit in the scheme or willing to turn a blind eye). The brokers themselves often posed as or hired clergy to accompany their clients into the hospital and ensure that the process went smoothly. The organ sellers typically got a few thousand dollars for their troubles, plus the chance to see an American city.
Odd role that clergy play in this drama.


  1. Luke,

    I know you are in favor of this. I am not opposed. However, whether this transaction is legal or illegal, I believe our society must not reward those who coerce or otherwise force people to "donate" their organs. And, yes, I would feel the same way if I were the potential recipient. What are your thoughts on how an incentive scheme can be established to address this concern while appropriately rewarding risk - of, for example, donating one of two functioning kidneys.

  2. Markets are not a panacea--they are simply less bad than the alternative.

    I would authorize insurance companies to pay for kidneys. If you are worried about donors, bundle the donation with free medical insurance.