Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Could There EVER Be An Okay Way to Pay for Body Parts?

Summer Johnson, PhD
April 21, 2010

Would payment for funeral expenses be okay to increase the rate of cadaveric organ donation?

What about upping the ante for getting men to spill their seed or to be able to pay women to undergo hormone injections to donate those precious ova?

Summer Johnson comments in this post on



Anonymous Justin Silpe said...

Firstly, I just want to say that I think this is a very interesting question.

My position is that there are situations when it is okay, as in morally permissible, to pay for body parts so long as casual responsibility and coercion are absent. I think many people would agree that the concept of organ donation (and 'paying for parts') should never directly entail casual responsibility on behalf of the potential donor - in that a person's omission to donate cannot be considered accountable for bringing about a result in the same way that a person's action to donate can. In this sense, organ donation is not like the custom of shaking hands where, if you act by engaging in the shake, it's polite, but if you omit, it's rude. This view works in cases both where the donor is living and deceased because: (1) It removes any undue sense of duty improperly imposed on a person to donate their organs; and (2) if the person is deceased and had never explicitly expressed his/her wishes to/not-to donate, the organs would not be unrightfully sold. This is because, without casual responsibility, the action to donate becomes far more deliberate than the omission, and thus, under presumed consent, it would be hard to ethically suppose that the person would've just wanted to go out of their way (above and beyond) to donate their organs, especially if they never made note of this intention while alive.

Secondly, in order to be considered justifiable, paying for body parts must also be devoid of coercion, which I believe is still possible, ethically, even when dealing with monetary incentives. Different from coercion, incentives imply an opportunity to improve an individual's situation, rather than necessarily threatening to cause harm if an individual doesn't participate (coercion). Therefore, offering payment for an organ is an incentive, not coercive. The notion of donating and transplanting organs because the offer is 'to good to refuse' might cause alarm in some, fearing that those who are at a financial disadvantage will undergo dramatic procedures and transplants against the good of their own health. But I believe this is still a nonissue, or at least outside the scope of this issue, so long as physicians continue to uphold their duties and act in the best interest of their patients.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010  
Anonymous Victor Vaughn said...

I think that if the person is dead and their is permission of the family, there should not be any moral issues. Using other people's body parts in order to save/help someone's live should be viewed as honorable. I have received two ACL cadavers for knee surgeries. I sent both families thank you letters. They both sent me thank you letters back. It was a rewarding experience for both sides.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010  

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