Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Five-Way Organ Swap


A reader sends this story along: Johns Hopkins has completed a 5-way kidney swap, in which five people gave their organs to unrelated people. But it wasn't pure altruism. It was a barter deal. In return for giving a kidney to an unrelated person, another donor gave a kidney to the first donor's loved one, and so on down the line five times. In other words, five persons reached a contract of sorts to donate a kidney to each others' family members so that their own loved one could receive a transplant.

Federal law prohibits, as it should, the buying and selling of organs. But this was, in its own way, a commercial transaction--with the consideration being an organ rather than legal tender. And the surgeries were apparently rushed so that no donor could change their mind about having a kidney removed once their family member received a transplant. Love can be a greater incentive than money, as we all know. Given that these donations can result in the debilitation or death of the living donor, I think we should be wary of such transactions.

HT: F. White


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