There are very few causes that I will support without question. Cancer research, AIDS awareness, Domestic Violence Prevention Programs, Ebola Internment Camps. For any group that wants my support, I usually approach them with some skepticism at first and have to be convinced of their merit.
One of my exceptions is blood and organ donation. I don’t care where it goes. I don’t care who receives my donations. I don’t ask if it will be used for research or for rich white, 80 year old men to keep their drinking habits going. Honestly, I don’t even care if they try to clone me using my DNA (although, I question their sanity).
The only condition I have is that my donations are voluntary – meaning, I still have the right to opt out until the moment the blood or tissues are removed from me. This would, of course, mean that I’m probably not going to be handing over any vital organs like my heart or liver while I’m still alive. Once I’m flat lining, harvest away.
I donate blood pretty much every 8 weeks at my local provider, Carter BloodCare. They have facilities all throughout North, Central and East TX. They also setup blood drives all over DFW.
Your body produces enough blood to donate a pint every 8 weeks. Aside from a needle stick and about an hour of your time, the process is safe and pretty harmless. The benefits, however, can’t be measured.
Blood and most organs cannot be artificially reproduced. They must come from a live donation in order to be fully functional. Hopefully someday, technology will have an artificial solution, but for now, we’re limited to organ donors.
A friend sent me this story about a man that has been faithfully donating blood for 59 years. It’s estimated he alone has helped save over 2 Million Newborns with his donations. I don’t know anything about this man. He may be a fascist, racist, or atheist. Regardless, I hold him in high esteem.
You can talk all you want about increasing the minimum wage and taxing the rich for the poor or improving public schools. All these things go through some bureaucratic behemoth and get pennies on the dollar to the actual cause. Organ and blood donations directly benefit people who just want to live for another day. And it costs you nothing but time.
So why am I so passionate about this cause?
To sum it up, I am fighting the government’s immoral and illegitimate, monopolistic control of Supply.
I’ve written here before that I believe that as God’s creation, He ultimately owns us. We’re just stewards with everything we have, including our bodies. But after God, I have authority over my body. Not the government. If I want to grow out my hair, cut if off, and sell it to wig makers, there should be no one interfering with that transaction other than me and the wig maker. The same argument applies to a pint of my blood, one of my kidneys, or even my heart after I die (I could will the proceeds from selling my organs and tissues as part of my estate.)
Almost a year ago, I posted a question on Facebook to my friends that read “Why is it illegal to sell your organs /tissues? What right does the government have over your own body?”
As you can imagine, this touched off a fire storm of debate.
In a nutshell, there are 2 basic categories of responses I had received supporting the current prohibition of selling your organs and tissues.
It may encourage people to steal / sell someone else’s organs without their full, informed consent (maybe they weren’t thinking straight or high or unaware that they needed their organs, etc.) and
The poor would not be able to afford to pay for organs and so by creating a market for organ donations, this would disproportionately hurt the poor’s chances at getting them.
So, let’s look at these 2 arguments.
For the first, I have a moral objection to all theft. I don’t care if it’s a kid with a gun demanding your car or an IRS agent taking money from your paycheck BEFORE YOU EVEN SEE IT. Theft of any kind is wrong and I will oppose it every time.
Think about this first argument with anything other than organs. If we applied it to, say, cars. The fact that cars can be bought or sold in the open market today might encourage someone to steal your car and sell it. Or it might open the door to shifty swindlers to convince you to take out a 500% monthly interest auto loan against the equity in your car to pay for groceries this month.
But do we prevent the sale of cars because of these potentially bad outcomes? Of course not. This argument is a no brainer.
The second argument requires a little more understanding of how prices, the market, and Supply and Demand work.
Right now, there is an EXTREME shortage of legal supply. In this piece by Keith Humphreys, he writes that “about 30 Americans a day either die on the [organ donor] waiting list or are removed from it because they have become too ill to receive a transplant.”
I make the distinction that the shortage is of legal supply because in a free market, there’s an almost unlimited, available supply. The problem is that the current system is completely dependent on the altruism of voluntary donors.
Most people don’t think about donating organs or blood. Most people are not incented enough to simply hand over their organs to strangers, even post mortem. The fact is that unless you know someone that has suffered and been in need of organs, you probably haven’t given it much thought.
But what would happen to Supply if people could sell their organs for cash legally and openly? Who would set the prices for sale? How would recipients pay for them? Would all organs be homogeneously priced / categorized? Would the liver of a 20 year old woman that had never drank alcohol or done any drugs go for the same price as a 70 year old alcoholic’s?
This is where the Free Market would establish Price Equilibrium. If overnight, all restrictions were lifted, you’d probably see a flood of donations hit the market hoping to cash in. Prices would fluctuate up and down all over the map. A healthy kidney might go for as much as $50,000 at first and then $10,000 the next day and then $1,000 the next week as more and more Supply becomes available.
Until at one glorious point, there would actually be TOO MUCH Supply. ALL the donor needs in the market today would be met. Not a single person would die because of the lack of Organ / Tissue / Blood donations. Instead of Organ Recipient waiting lists, you would actually have true “Organ Donor” waiting lists (meaning, people waiting to sell their organs at a negotiated price when the need arose).
Think I’m living in a fantasy world? It’s already happened in Iran. This article is a little dated and I haven’t been able to find any follow up information, but Iran had already witnessed a Surplus (excess Supply) because the market was opened up.
Think about that.
IRAN has freer markets than we do.
Price Equilibrium moves as the market moves. So after the initial drop in price, you may see a rebound. Potential donors may look at the price they are being offered for their organs and decide it’s not worth what the market is offering. And for a while, prices may climb. But as soon as they reach a point that’s favorable, donors will come back to the market and meet demand.
“What about the poor?” you say. “What if, even with a surplus of supply, the poor are not able to afford paying for organs?”
The great thing about a free market, as pointed out in Humphreys’ article, is that just because people can sell their organs for compensation does not mean those altruistic people that would have donated under the current regime would stop or be prevented from giving away their organs freely. In a free market, YOU set the price for selling your property, even if the price is zero or below the market rate.
It’s time to end the inexcusable suffering the government has caused millions of people over decades because of our fear that people will not be able to think for themselves.
But until then, please think about becoming an organ and blood donor today. The need is great. The cost is little. The reward is yours forever to cherish.