Kidney Donations for Freedom

The Chinese have been criticized for harvesting organs of executed prisoners. If this accusation is correct, then the criticism is well deserved.

In United States, we believe in voluntarism — well, sort of — and stand as a beacon for freedom that the Chinese should emulate. The state of South Carolina is working on legislation to allow prisoners to voluntarily give up a kidney in return for shortening their prison sentence by six months. Unfortunately, as the article below notes, irrational regulations make it illegal to trade an organ for valuable considerations. This law probably does not apply since the state no doubt considers to prisoners to be creatures without value, so six months of freedom could not be deemed valuable.

Ayres, Chris. 2007. “Prisoners May Give up Kidney to Spend Less Time Doing Porridge.” The Times (London) (10 March).

“A state senate panel in South Carolina has created an organ-and-tissue donation programme for inmates and called in lawyers to discuss a more radical proposal that would reduce the sentence of prisoners who are willing to give up their kidneys to transplant patients. It has been suggested that a kidney donation could wipe up to six months off a jail sentence. Similar incentives could be given in return for bone marrow or parts of the pancreas, lung, liver or intestine. The US faces a chronic organ shortage, with 95,300 patients waiting for organ transplants and 6,700 dying each year as a result of not receiving them in time.”

“Demand is high. In one well-publicised case, a “fully functioning kidney” was put up for sale on eBay for $5.7 million before the internet auction company blocked the sale.”

“Trafficking in human organs is illegal and can be punished with five years in prison and fines of $50,000 or more. State senators are concerned that those laws could make their proposed scheme unworkable.”

“The main issue involves an argument over whether a reduction of 180 days from a prison sentence constitutes “valuable consideration”, because federal law says that it is illegal to give such an incentive to a person in return for an organ donation.”


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