Iran’s Out of Control Kidney Bazaar

Iran is the only country in the world that legally permits the purchase of human organs. (Yes, I know it happens elsewhere.)

I don’t see Iran as a country to emulate, but some have argued that it is leading the way toward a compassionate change in policy, which I opined about here.

Now, unsurprisingly, news has come out that the organ bazaar is apparently rife with corruption. From the Payvand Iran News story:

On Sunday July 20, CASKP chief Mostafa Qasemi told the Fars News Agency: “These patients enter the country with false documents; doctors do not examine their documents and are paid millions to carry out a kidney transplant for them.”

In Iran, kidney donation to foreign nationals is illegal, but according to Qasemi, in recent years intermediaries have been producing fake National ID Cards and Birth Certificates and procuring Iranian kidneys for non-Iranians…Qasemi referred to two “Saudi patients” who travelled to Iran recently for kidney transplants, noting that one of the patients died during treatment. According to Qasemi, the Saudi Embassy pursued the matter, a number of the people on the medical team were arrested and the investigations even involved the Ministry of Intelligence.

Let the finger-pointing begin:

The Ministry of Health supervisory board says any report of misconduct in kidney transplants has been dealt with severely by the ministry and the only violations reported have involved private hospitals. The ministry has blamed physicians for failing to adequately scrutinize patient documents.

According to the Ministry of Health: “Physicians have been sloppy in the examination of patient documents, even though it is very easy to recognize if they are treating an Arab or Afghan foreign national. Physicians are not complying with the law and are readily accepting fake documents.

Why is anyone surprised? Organ buying will always lead to official and purveyor corruption because it involves desperate people on both sides of the transaction. And it is worse for the destitute who put their health at risk for the relative pittance they receive.

The current international public policy against organ buying and selling is correct. Organ markets should not be permitted. 

Or, we can yield to a libertarian Nirvana, what I call Blade Runner World, where the powerful and connected do splendidly, but everyone else, not so much.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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