Are Kidney Markets Morally Permissible If Vendors Do Not Benefit?

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2014; 14(10): 29-30

Samuel J. Kerstein

Julian Koplin (2014) argues forcefully that, according to available data, it is doubtful whether poor people in developing countries would benefit from selling their kidneys in regulated markets. He points to studies suggesting that in unregulated markets, kidney sellers suffer physical, psychological, social, and financial harms. Moreover, Koplin makes a plausible case that these studies, coupled with data regarding the regulated market in Iran, raise serious worries that sellers in developing
countries would suffer such harms in regulated markets as well.


If regulated markets in kidneys get established around the globe, organs would presumably flow from citizens of poor countries to citizens of wealthier ones. Let us focus on regulated markets in developing countries. Let us assume for the sake of argument that in such markets only vendors who give their informed, voluntary consent to nephrectomy would sell, and they would receive the promised payment, as well as appropriate medical attention,before, during, and after the procedure. Koplin gives us reasons for thinking that sellers might still typically fail to benefit. But if he is correct, might such markets nevertheless be morally permissible?

Read the full article here at The American Journal of Bioethics (subscription required).

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