“Should we sell human organs?” Correction of a faulty analysis
David L. Kaserman
Purpose – The purpose of this research is to correct the flawed analysis contained in a recent paper by Kolnsberg that appeared in this journal. Design/methodology/approach – In her paper, Kolnsberg raises the extremely important question of whether we should allow the sale of human organs for transplantation. She concludes, mistakenly, that we should not allow such sales. The error that leads her to this incorrect conclusion is the application of a nonsensical criterion for determination of whether sales of a good should be allowed. Specifically, she argues that, if the suppliers of living donor organs will be unable to earn substantial economic profits in the long run, then such sales should be banned. This arbitrary (and erroneous) criterion ignores: the social welfare gains achievable through organ sales; the much greater promise offered by cadaveric donor payments; and the very real and tragic consequences of the current ban on such payments – over 6,000 lives lost unnecessarily each year in the US alone. Findings – The principal finding of the corrected analysis is that, contrary to the conclusion reached by Kolnsberg, paying cadaveric organ donors would save both money and lives. Research limitations/implications – Given the compelling case for cadaveric donor payments, trials need to be conducted to reveal both the magnitude of compensation required to resolve the shortage and the most efficient payment mechanisms. Originality/value – Given the historical failure of the current altruistic organ procurement policy, asserts that a revised system that incorporates organ donor payments is essential to a successful resolution of this shortage.
Body systems and organs, Economic value analysis, Transplant surgery
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