A Further Lesson From Existing Kidney Markets

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2014; 14(10): 27-29

Erik Malmqvist

The target article challenges the increasingly popular portrayal of living kidney sale as potentially a mutually beneficial arrangement, capable not only of saving or improving the lives of patients in need of transplants but also of significantly benefiting poor vendors. Carefully reviewing the literature on harms to vendors in illegal kidney markets and in Iran’s legal market, Koplin (2014) argues that many of these harms would persist in the sort of legal regulated system that kidney sale advocates envision. This is an important argument. The kidney sales debate has been skewed in favor of permitting sales by a simplified view of the potential harms involved and excessive optimism about the capacity of regulation to prevent these harms (Malmqvist 2013). The article counterbalances these tendencies and thus considerably weakens the case for allowing sales. Nonetheless, some market proponents might remain unconvinced. I suggest that in addition to the lessons that Koplin draws from existing kidney markets, there is yet another one, which casts further doubt on the advisability of allowing kidney sales.

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

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