Organs for saleToday, in Durban, South Africa, 5 doctors gave themselves up to the police after warrants of arrest were issued for them (read News24 coverage). In short, they are part of a global network that buys and sells human organs, especially kidneys.
The story as it stands is that wealthy (mainly Israeli) clients pay up to $ 120,000 (yep!!) for a kidney transplant. Doctors in many countries, including the accused in South Africa act as middle men, and also do the surgery. The kidneys are sourced from donors in (mainly) Brazil, who are paid $ 10,000. Hospital fees can be up to $ 50,000, which means that these middle men who were in court today could earn as much as $ 60,000 per operation. They are known to have done more than 110 in the past few years.
This is technically illegal, and contravenes South Africa’s Trafficking in Human Organs Act. I don’t know why it should be illegal.

Maybe I’m just too much of a capitalist and libertarian, but I don’t understand what is illegal in the above transaction. It sounds like everyone got what they wanted. Poor Brazilians got serious money, rich Israeli’s got kidney transplants, and hospitals and doctors made profit. Who’s complaining?
Of course, part of the problem would be how much the Brazilian donor was told about what they were doing. There is no doubt that this could lead to exploitation. But part of the problem here (like prostitution or marijuana usage, for example) is that if you make it illegal in a blanket doctrine, then you push it underground (rather than stopping it completely). So, its tough now to have a public awareness campaign, or NGO support or official “policing” of the practice. But, even then, surely the issue is not about legality, but rather about protection of the poor and disempowered.
If this was legalised, it would also cost a whole lot less. The middle men had to be paid a lot so that the risk of creating fraudulent documentation so that the surgery could be performed was worth it for them. If it was legal, that cost would be dramatically reduced, and people who desparately need the transplant could have cheaper access to it.
Again, I really don’t see why this should be illegal or generate moral outrage. In a connected world, should people not be allowed to operate as free market agents on a willing buyer, willing seller basis? Is the role of the authorities not simply to ensure that no exploitation takes place, regardless of what is being bought or sold?
Maybe someone can explain that to me.

TomorrowToday Global