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In defence of organ-legging

by Thomas L Knapp

Courtesy of one of New Jersey’s periodic “corruption” busts — in which politicians who don’t pass a sufficient percentage of their bribe revenues up the ladder are made examples of — the public received a rare peek into the underground market in human organs.

Writing in the New York Post, Brian Kates and William Sherman build on a Brooklyn rabbi’s arrest on “organ trafficking” charges to bemoan the fact that American patients wait three years for a kidney, “driv[ing] many to the underground market,” where they may pay in excess of $100,000 to a “broker” to procure the organ for them. This procurement process may involve bringing a poor donor from the Third World to the US, or require the patient to travel in the other direction.

What the authors don’t mention is why it takes three years for a transplant patient to get a kidney in the United States. And that reason is? If you guessed “government,” you guessed right. US law forbids compensating living organ donors, or the families of deceased donors, for the organs or for the time, trouble and pain involved in saving a life. The organ donation “establishment” even opposes giving those who agree to donate their organs “first call” at need (as proposed by the excellent organization LifeSharers.

First things first: It’s of vital importance that we understand that the state’s prohibition on organ-selling isn’t a result of logic poorly applied pursuant to some harebrained scheme that would theoretically increase the availability of organs and save lives. It’s not a good idea poorly applied — it’s just a plain bad idea.

The prohibition is a plain, bald, unapologetic application of the “ethical” holding which constitutes the root of modern statism — Kant’s “categorical imperative,” under which duty and sacrifice represent the good, and under which any benefit to the person making the sacrifice is “unethical” and taints that sacrifice.

Interestingly, this ethical constraint is applied in practice only to the person providing the organ which makes the transplant operation possible in the first place. The doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, other hospital workers, couriers — everyone involved in the chain of events which brings an organ from donor to transplant patient — can be, and usually are, well-paid. Ditto the politicians who make the laws applying that ethical constraint to patient and donor. And, of course, the “ethicists” (be they university academics or those in hospital “lawsuit vaccination” sinecures) who demand that they be consulted on the matter.

The fact that this “ethical” prohibition costs lives apparently carries no great weight with “ethicists” or politicians. Not that that’s surprising. From their perspective, it’s not about saving lives — it’s about imposing their theories on reality and on those who inhabit reality. They consider you — your time, your money, your property, your life — expendable in that pursuit. The purpose of reality and its inhabitants, you see, is to serve their theories rather than the other way around.

Curiously, patients awaiting a transplantable organ tend to get uncooperative on this point. For some reason, they place a higher priority on remaining alive than on affirming the unearthly theories of Immanuel Kant. Thus a “black market” in organs flourishes, the best efforts of the state to suppress it notwithstanding.

The state is eager to have you regard “organ broker” Levy Rosenbaum as a “criminal.” The facts say otherwise. From the perspective of a transplant patient, who’s the crook: The entrepreneur who gets you an organ from a willing donor at an agreed-upon price, or the bureaucrat who tells you that it’s your “duty” to shut up, lie down and die for his “principles?”

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