Levy Itzhak Rosenbaum was sentenced last week to 30 months in prison for his role in arranging the sale of a human kidney.
But some say these sales should not be a crime at all. The man who supplied a kidney to Rosenbaum was paid $25,000 and emerged unharmed, if somewhat diminished. The kidney itself saved a man’s life, and his daughter says she regards Rosenbaum as a “hero” for making that happen.
A commercial trade in organs would undoubtedly save lives. In America today, an average of 17 people die each day while waiting for organs, the bulk of them are people whose kidneys have failed. That number is growing relentlessly as kidney failure rates skyrocket, while donation rates stagnate.
In Iran, where kidneys are bought and sold legally, this problem is a thing of the past. There is no waiting list.
Yet the editors still believe that "there are good reasons to keep the ban on organ sales in place."
If you think there must be some crucial insight to explain the editors stance, you would be wrong.
If you want to know the smallness of the alter upon which the freedom of doctors and the lives of patients must be sacrificed, read the rest of that nauseating editorial.
I left the following comments:
Ethics is the fundamental issue, and what we are seeing here is the monstrous evil of altruism laid bare. Altruism holds that self-sacrifice for the good of others is the ethical ideal. Philosopher Ayn Rand called this ethic a “morality of death.” Rarely does a real-life issue concretize an abstract idea as clearly as the organ market issue does.
The Editors readily acknowledge that a free market in organ trade would “undoubtedly” save countless lives; that it works in practice; that it benefitted both parties in the Rosenbaum transaction.
Yet the Editors dogmatically cling to their opposition to organ sales, because of the “vulgar” prospect that the organ donor may financially profit from the value he provides to the recipient.
But the real moral ideal is not one-sided self-sacrifice but the voluntary trade. A trade is a win-win; i.e., people getting better together, each getting something of greater value to him than he is giving up; the life-enhancing, mutually self-interested transaction.
Hamstrung by their ethics, the Editors would rather some people remain financially poorer and others die needlessly rather than both benefit from a non-sacrificial, mutually advantageous voluntary trade. Such is the corruptive nature of altruism, the morality of death.