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Should we legalize the kidney markets in the USA

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 664 times Debate No: 48928
Debate Rounds (3)
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In the 1980s the US banned the sale of kidneys and other human organs on the premise that it was immoral and should be replaced with a system based on altruism. There are two ways people can get a kidney legally in the US. The first is by convincing someone you know to agree to a kidney transplant. The second is to wait on the long waiting list run by the red cross, but every year only one out of four people on the waiting list actually receive a kidney. This has led to the death of thousands of Americans every year. However if we were to legalize the kidney market than people would be able to sell their kidneys and supply would be able to meet demand and thus save the lives of thousands of people a year.


Challenge accepted.

You are only telling one side of the story. You say that it saves thousands of lives, I will argue that it costs just as many if not more lives. When a person donates their kidney they help the recipient kick the can we call life down the road a few more steps, but drastically shorten their own life in the process. If what you say were made into a law then an elderly wealthy person could keep on buying organs from young healthy working poor people drastically lowering their life expectancy. The donors themselves will soon end up needing transplants, but will lack the funds to receive one. Not every donor will even survive the transplant process. Many will die when selling the organ away.

Entropy is a natural part of life. What you propose is the unnatural.

It's not like their are no alternatives to organ transplants. What about cloning the organs? What about artificial organs?
Debate Round No. 1


Thank You Yihman for accepting my debate.

One common misbelief of a legal kidney market system is that only the rich will be able to afford a new kidney. This is simply not true. There is one country in the world that has a legal kidney market for all of its citizens rich or poor. That country is Iran. Though I normally don't hold up Iran as being a beacon of economic liberty in this case they are compared to the rest of the world. The Iranian kidney market is highly regulated by the government, in which only Iranian citizens may partake. Every year thousands of Iranians sell one of their kidneys to complete strangers through this system. This has resulted in Iran being the only country to not have a waiting list for kidneys. While other countries suffer from major shortages of kidneys and long waiting lists any citizen of Iran can sleep easy knowing that in their country they can receive a kidney if need be.

When it comes to affordability the actual price of buying a kidney would not be as much as most people are led to believe. In Iran it is estimated that the average compensation for a kidney is about 1200-1300 US dollars, which amounts to roughly 1/5 Iran's GDP per capita. Using this comparison we can estimate that in a market based kidney system a kidney would probably cost between 10,000-15,000 dollars. Even if the kidney were to cost 50,000 this is relatively low compare to the actual transplant procedure. According to the National Foundation For transplants the average cost for a kidney transplant and other first year expenses cost about 260,000 dollars. However with that being said it is not just in our best moral interests to help these people get kidneys and transplants but it is also in our economic interest. For even 260,000 dollars doesn't compare to the amount of value each American will add to the Economy in his or her lifetime. So in a market based system there will most likely be government programs or charitable organizations that will help cover the cost of the procedures for the poor.


Iran is doing it, lets all hop on board! Here is an interesting article.
Kidneys for sale: poor Iranians compete to sell their organs
In the only country where the organ trade is legal, the streets near hospitals have been turned into a 'kidney eBay'

In Iran the poor, and unfortunate are lining up in the streets to sell Kidneys to pay for food. and medicine! Explain how this does not cater to the rich? Thank you for proing my point for me. You toss out the figure $260,000 as if it is nothing. The average cost of a US home for sale in February 2013 was $152,000. What you propose costs over $100,000 more than the average persons home. According to's data, the average selling price of a new car sold here in the U.S. last month was $30,748, marking an all-time record (last year's figure was just $28,771). According to you a person would need more money than the price of 3 brand new cars, plus a hom in order to afford this kidney transplant.

Your claims that this would help the economy are misleading. Anyone familiar with the broken window parable will be wise to your debate.

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation – "It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?"

Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier's trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, "Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen."

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.

Furthermore you claim to have the moral high ground. Yet your arguments are that of a reverse Robin Hood. Rob from the poor, and give to the rich.
Debate Round No. 2


First of all I would like to point out that the 260,000 dollar number is the cost for the kidney transplant when the patient is able to receive a kidney from the current system. Yes 260,000 dollars is a lot of money for the average American, but this isn't a debate about the cost of the procedure. It is about ways of acquiring a kidney to have the procedure done in the first place. My point was that the cost of acquiring a kidney in a market based system would not be that much compared to having the kidney transplant procedure.

The broken window parable does not apply here. In the broken window parable only a few if any benefit. In a market based kidney system as in all market based systems everyone who participates in it will benefit. This is not a reverse robin hood scenario where the Rich steal from the poor. The is a voluntary system in which people are given a choice on whether or not to sell his or her kidney. People should have the opportunity to make their own decisions on whether or not to sell their kidneys. People who sell their kidneys aren't being forced to. They are willingly giving up one of their kidneys to save a life in return for some much needed cash. The seller benefits from the compensation and the buyer benefits from not dying. Just like any other market transactions it is a win win for both participates.

As far as growing kidneys go the science is simply not there yet and probably won't exist for a couple decades. In the mean time many people will continue to die from thee shortage of kidneys caused from unjust laws banning kidney transactions. As this debate comes to an end I would like to state that people should be given the freedom to do anything with their body. Laws that ban kidney transactions are not only restricting individual freedom but is also causing the deaths of thousands in America alone.


You say that it is not a debate about the cost of a kidney transplant. I was only talking about the prices because you brought up that $260,000 figure. I didn't even research the costs myself, and I am happy in my argument agreeing with you that they cost a ton of money. You give me ammo, and I use it.

The seller does not benefit from selling a kidney even if they think they do. If that were the case then why don't wealthy people sell a kidney? It's a bad idea to give up a vital bodily organ. Why stop at Kidneys? How about people can selling arms, and legs to wounded war vets instead of the vets you know... getting a prosthetic. It's madness!

People who are selling their organs are desperate for money. They only sell the organ out of desperation. If a crafty person went to a disaster wrecked area, and the people were very short on food and water and this crafty person was selling bottled waters for $30 a bottle any reasonable person would see that this person taking advantage of people in need. Sure they have the choice not to buy that bottled water... but something is wrong with that. It's called price gouging. People selling there kidneys are being gouged out of their kidney. They can find another more reasonable way to make money. It's not like when people donate blood or semen... You can always make more of those fluids. You can't regrow a kidney. They will either have massive future medical bills or die young or both. Since they are poor people they won't be paying those medical bills, and that will cause a strain on the health care system. Everyone's hospital bills will go up. If the government tries to bail out the healthcare system... Then taxes will go up.

When you say science is not there yet, and won't be for decades... Oh it's there, and it's there NOW! In 1996 an entire sheep (Dolly) cloned. In 2013 an australian scientist successfully cloned a human kidney.

It's not right to shorten a innocent persons life to prolong another persons life when alternatives such as cloning organs exist.
Debate Round No. 3
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