This week a film I co-produced on kidney trafficking had its world premiere on HBO. It’s called “Tales From the Organ Trade”, and was directed by my associate Ric Esther Bienstock, an Emmy winning filmmaker. The film marks the first time that someone has infiltrated every aspect of an illegal kidney sale; from buyer to nephrologist to seller to middleman to surgeon. Ric has explored the “moral ambiguity” of the issue and, as a result of its nuanced objectivity, the film is putting the entire matter on the global health agenda.
For my part, I am no longer a dispassionate reporter on the issue. As I write, tens of thousands of people around the world are in need of kidneys. Thousands of these people are being tortured daily on dialysis machines while thousands of others are dying, waiting for cadaver kidneys to become available. This is totally immoral. Some suffering we cannot alleviate, but this suffering has a simple solution. While tens of thousands need kidneys, tens of thousands want to sell them. We each have two kidneys. We only need one.
Today, the transplant operation is virtually risk free. Many countries allow for the selling of blood and many more allow for surrogate motherhood i.e., the purchase of a surrogate womb. And yet, when it comes to kidneys, so-called “ethicists” have determined that it’s immoral for a healthy person in the developed and/or the developing world to sell his/her kidney to a dying person who can afford to buy one. I’m tired of hearing multimillionaire doctors pontificating on what poor people should do. I’m tired of hearing individuals who are pulling in millions of dollars in salaries administrating hospitals, running so-called kidney foundations or working as doctors in the most affluent clinics in the West, stating that you can’t trust the decisions of a poor person when money is involved.
Thousands of individuals in the developing world could benefit from selling their kidneys. The money they get sometimes means the difference between life and death, prostitution or education for their children. But our patronizing, racist, ethicists in the first world have decided that it’s better to condemn the poor to prostitution and the rich to an early grave then to let the two meet in a regulated market. Enough! It’s immoral to force the buying and selling of kidneys into the black market. It’s time we decriminalize the selling of organs. That’s the only way to ensure that the criminals will no longer be involved.
It’s time that we make sure that the seller gets a fair price, that he/she is healthy enough to undergo the operation and that he/she receives the proper aftercare that will ensure a successful outcome. Presently, sellers are dying from secondary infections for lack of a simple antibiotic. And all this is happening because our “ethicists” have decided that it’s ethical to let the dying continue, and treat surgeons who are saving lives in the kidney trade as if they are pimps and sex traders.
Once we decriminalize the buying and selling of kidneys the waiting list will disappear and people who can’t afford to buy one will move to the top of the lists, as the people ahead of them drop out of line. Also, kidneys taken from live donors do better for the recipients than kidneys from cadavers. This will ensure longer lives and less operations for the recipients, not to mention billions of dollars of savings to tax payers who are presently financing the dialysis inquisition.
It’s time for the dying to stop. No more needless deaths!
Kidney sufferers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your dialysis machines!