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Consider the arguments for and against paid organ donation.

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Discussion (3073 words) After the research I have done into organ donation, I hold an absolutist position about whether kidney donors should receive payment in the UK. I believe that in principal, paid organ donation could be a good thing for society in terms of increasing the number of organs available for donation, but in practice, the increase in available organs would be minimal, and the negative side-effects created from the system would outweigh the positives of more organs becoming available, therefore, payment for organ donors should not be introduced. The main argument in favour of paid organ donation would be that it would increase the number of available organs for donation, by providing an incentive that the donor would consider as more useful to them than one of their kidneys. In theory, this would result in the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people, so would be favoured by a utilitarian. The donors would benefit from money that they need to lead a better life and the recipients would benefit from a new organ that would hopefully save their life. However, looking at the situation from a relativist approach, this argument is only valid as long as there is a significant increase in donors coming forward, otherwise all the negative effects of the system would create more of a problem than the gain from the insignificant raise in organs available. In fact, the introduction of a paid organ donation system would be unlikely to significantly increase the number of available kidneys in the UK, because most people would not give up a body part for money. This is because it would be considered as potentially harmful and dangerous to undergo such a procedure by the donor, as well as socially frowned upon to sell body parts in the UK, so any donor would most likely be shunned, and not many people would be prepared to give up a precious and unique part of themselves for a sum of money, no matter how much they needed that money. ...read more.


The tests for organs that are unsuitable for donation would waste a lot of money for the NHS, so less could be available for other causes. Of course, many people argue that payment for organs in the UK would reduce the amount of worldwide illegal organ trading that occurs, because more available kidneys would mean fewer British patients would be travelling abroad to buy kidneys elsewhere, where the illegal trade is uncontrolled and causes exploitation and death. Exploitation in the UK would be unlikely to happen, because the donation system would be nationally run by the NHS, and the UK doctors would carry out the procedure under good conditions with minimal risk to the donor or recipient, compared to risky procedures abroad. However, these benefits are limited by whether the number of people staying in the UK was increased as a result of more organs becoming available for transplantation. As already discussed, there would probably not be a great increase in organs available, so there would still be people desperate enough for an organ to travel abroad and encourage the illegal transplant trade, meaning these advantages of a paid system would not arise. According to some religious beliefs, human bodies are sacred, so it is not only impossible, but insulting their God, to value an organ; in Christianity, the dominating religion in the UK, it is believed that man was made in the image of God, so to sell part of man would be sacrilegious. One philosophical method of analysing arguments would be Karl Popper's falsificationism. If you cannot disprove ('falsify') a theory then it can never be proven because it is not science. It is not possible to falsify that there is God or 'higher being', or that we, as humans, are made in the image of, or by a 'God', therefore we cannot ever prove against these religious theories about valuing an organ being wrong, so they cannot be ignored. ...read more.


However, people paid for donating a kidney are less likely to do so out of good intentions, so are less likely to tell the truth about their medical history, and greater risk could be created for the donor and perhaps even the recipient if the donor suffers from any underlying conditions that are not detected from the medical examination and history. A final reason why paid organ donation would cause trouble would be about the actual tests that people have to go through to donate their organs. There would be more people coming forward to offer their kidneys, and, even if the organs were not suitable for donation, the tests can uproot problems. Sometimes the virus tests can show that the potential donor is HIV positive, which may make it worse for the donor than before they came forward. Blood testing can uproot family problems when, for example, someone finds they have a different blood group to their parents, revealing that they are adopted, when this information would be better never known. A utilitarian or a relativist would feel that these problems would often cause more unhappiness than if the tests if results were never discovered, so extra testing should be avoided and not encouraged by monetary payment. As with most arguments, there are always limitations that would undermine the discussion if they arose. For example, if technology was developed so that stem cells could be grown into kidneys or mechanical kidneys could be created and used, then the UK would no longer need to consider methods of increasing organ availability, like paid donation. If there was no longer a need for more kidney donations then this argument would be invalid also, either from cures being found to kidney diseases so that kidney transplants are not needed, or from an alternative organ donation system being introduced so there are already enough available organs. 1 From 'Why give to strangers?' by Titmuss on organ transplants, from Bioethics: An Anthology edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. 2 The Bible, based on Acts 15:28, 29 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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