Dr. Samori Swygert: Wall Street Speculates on Kidney Transplant Market
When people hear about selling your body, their psyche will typically project the image of prostitution or human trafficking. However, the demand for human organs is at a premium, and the healthcare industry is poised to play as an active participant.
I had the opportunity to read a brilliant article by Gary Becker, and Julio Elias from the Wall Street Journal. They elucidated the market demand, the associated reasons, and the parameters that will govern the economics of organ transplantation.
What are the facts?
According to Becker and Elias, the average waiting period for a kidney transplant is approximately 4.5 years. The population of the kidney waiting list has basically doubled over 10 years from, 54,000 to 95,000 in 2012. The list is inclusive of both genders, and all age brackets. Individuals that have yet to receive a kidney remain on dialysis (a mechanized filtration system of the blood). The average length of survival of a middle aged person on dialysis is approximately 8 years. However, if blessed and afforded to receive a kidney transplant, their life expectancy gains another 24 years. The authors of the article sadly reported that nearly 4,500 people died waiting for a kidney transplant in 2012.
“Time is money”
The sheer inconvenience of having to routinely schedule your whole life around numerous dialysis sessions can be overwhelming emotionally and mentally. That in itself is an expense, the cost of peace of mind. Well peace of mind is definitely disturbed with the actual monetary pricing of dialysis and kidney transplants. Dialysis is a big ticket item on household budgets, because they average $80,000 per year. You must then consider the 4.5 year wait time for receiving one. That equation generates a figured expense of ~$ 350,000 from the cost of waiting alone. The actual kidney transplant costs approximately $150,000, and you must still factor in the pharmaceutical expense for taking anti-rejection drugs for the kidney.
Maneuvering the market
To combat the wait time, save money, and save lives, many people and institutions are engaging in KIDNEY EXCHANGES. This process facilitates and expedites the kidney donor/recipient matching process. The problem is just finding a kidney, you must find a kidney that’s compatible with the blood type and tissue match of both recipient and donor, or the recipient’s body will reject it.
To meet the market demand for kidneys, proposals are being floated around for paying people for their kidneys. Humans can live with one functional kidney, however many express reservations of parting with their organs. The trepidation revolves around many reasons such as: fear of the risks associated with surgery, fear of lifestyle change, and time away from work. To account for the fear, the authors propose a 3 month mandatory waiting period to allow donors to really think things through.
The price tag reported in the article ranges from a low of $5000 to a high of $15,000 per kidney. The United States is not the only country considering this type of monetary-medical policy. In fact, America is looking at its’ very own enemy, Iran, as a model. Iran pays $4000 per kidney, and boasts a drastic reduction to virtual obsolescence of waiting times.
This costs an arm and a leg…or Kidney
The noted concerns in this new proposal is that this would construct a morally inhumane soliciting of the poor and disenfranchised. The same way many individuals in financial binds will pawn items, or take out payday title loans, many people may turn to kidney donation as a financial solution. Rather than donating a kidney to be physiologically philanthropic, individuals may resort to this. Economic climates like today, where unemployment is rampant, may provide an alternative means of revenue that wasn’t previously available. The ultimate conclusion can be immense regret, especially considering that economics is a temporary and ever changing dynamic. Kidney donation is very absolute and finite as opposed to sperm and egg donation where several reproductive cells are left.
In capitalism, everything is for sale, everything has a price, and everything can be negotiated. Based on the capitalistic genetic makeup of America, I believe this will happen. People must establish their own moral codes, altruistic/humanitarian philosophies, and system of priorities. Organ donation is very noble, but I think you should do it for the right reasons. Determine your reasons, be confident and comfortable with your choice.
Individuals should also note that the biotech industry is also developing body organs that are just like your internal organs. This also brings the importance of good diet, health, and exercise. These lifestyle modifications can cut down on the development of numerous conditions like kidney disease, heart conditions, and etc.
This seems like something that should be debated in Obamacare. I can easily say that I received $15,000 for donating a kidney, but every year a person lives from my kidney should be tax deductible as per donating to life and reducing the strain on the United States Healthcare budget! There are a lot of incentives and scenarios that should be reviewed if this system of pay for organs is approved. We also must consider the loss in revenue from the medical device industry when the demand for dialysis drops.
Lastly, there would also have to be some regulatory commission to investigate if people were coerced into donations by Black Market Organ Harvesting operations, and the origin of kidneys to be sold in the market. This is a Hollywood ready black market organ harvesting scandal: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/nyregion/24jersey.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Also, why did the kidney waiting list double in 10 years?
Even Facebook sees opportunity
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even thrown his hat in the ring to facilitate transplants using his database network. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/abc-news-exclusive-facebook-tool-helps-organ-donors/story?id=16244991
Check out the source links and tell me your thoughts.
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