Should there be a “donor kidney market,” where you can get paid to donate one of your kidneys? A growing number of doctors think the answer should be “yes.” That’s because the supply of healthy kidneys being transplanted each year has stagnated, while the waiting list for kidneys has doubled in the past decade – to over 83,000 people in North America alone! Doctors say unless changes are made, thousands of people on that list will die unnecessarily.
Dr. Benjamin Hippin is a transplant surgeon from North Carolina who says one of the most compelling reasons to have a donor kidney market is cost. He says right now, North Americans are spending about $30 billion a year to stay alive on dialysis. Yet we spend only $3 billion each year performing kidney transplants! His thinking is that people who need a healthy kidney would gladly pay a donor for one – to stay alive and to save money. Also, Dr. Hippin believes a regulated kidney market would be safer. That’s because the majority of organ transplants today come from deceased donors, who weren’t always in the best health before they died. However, with a donor market, doctors could choose from a database of donors who are alive.
On the flipside, some experts say a donor kidney market is a bad idea, because people will shop around for the cheapest price. The concern is that people may end up buying cheap donated kidneys from foreign countries, where the risk for diseases like hepatitis and tuberculosis are much higher. Experts also worry that a donor kidney market would exploit the poor. Think about it: Even though you can live a healthy life with one kidney, statistics have shown that the people most willing to risk their lives to give up a kidney are people who are desperate for money.