When going through some second hand books at an open stall after college one day my hand paused at a book called Coma by Robin Cook. Flashback. I remember an old friend telling me that this book had been a good read. Since this happened a long time ago maybe when I was in school you would wonder how I would remember something like that but when you’re a book lover these things come naturally to you. I could not remember the context in which we discussed that book, I could not remember what the book was about, I could not even remember the friend who told me about the book but I remembered the words “that book is worth reading”. I’m also a book hoarder. I hoard fictional novels and when I find the time, I read them at leisure. So when I found time and the moment felt right I got down to reading Coma and after I finished reading, I felt strangely unsettled. I love books that leave me with a feel good feeling at the end but I also admire those books that leave me unsettled. Because any book that leaves you that unsettled is the mark of a well written book no matter what the content.

This book dealt with the controversial issue of black marketing of organs carried out by a group of doctors and medical practitioners who hijacked the organs from patients after putting them into a coma and killing them. They had a tie up with rich patients and well to do people in the higher strata of society who had need for kidneys and were willing to pay a higher price for that. So it got me thinking if such things are so scary in books and movies how much more scarier would it be in real life? Let’s leave aside people who are killed for their organs just because they happen to be the right match. There is no question as to whether that is right or wrong. It is plain wrong to rip the organs out from a person without their consent and to kill them in cold murder. People who practice such things have the darkest place in hell reserved for them. To me doctors, surgeons and middlemen who take part in such practices are vampires of the medical world, only they don’t just draw out your blood and leave you soulless, they leave you dead and show you how soulless they are.

But what about those people who enter the organ trade willingly. While it’s no big secret that organ trade is illegal and organ donation is not only legal but encouraged, the bigger question still remains as to whether the selling of organs should remain illegal or be made legal. Suppose I had a friend, a close relative or family member who needed an organ, take in this case a kidney, or say the worst thing happened and I’m hanging on a fine line between life and death and I decide that I don’t want to die just yet. We all know that certain organs like kidneys are always in short supply and that there are a million recipients already on a never ending waiting list. What decision would I make? Where does the line between right and wrong come into being? I’m an ordinary human being and I think that the will to live would force me to enter into a trade via the black market. It’s very easy to sit back in your chair with life going on good for you and judge people for making that choice willingly. But it’s a different thing altogether when you find the same thing happening to you.

I raise my hat to those people who make that choice willingly both the recipient and the seller because no matter what the reason for the trade, making a choice like that requires courage and guts. Particularly because the nature of the trade is illegal. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the trade when innocent people get killed, I don’t support the trade when either one of the parties is unwilling in the trade process especially when it comes to the poorer sections of society because in some cases they are really left with no choice even though that may be debatable. But I do support the trade when both parties are of sound body and mind and when they have the right to decide for themselves. What I’m saying is that at least give them the benefit of making that choice by themselves. A kid who sold his kidney for an I-pod recently made big news, with many stating that he didn’t know what he was doing. On the other hand I think he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what he wanted to do with the money he got from his kidney and since he managed to undergo a kidney transplant without his parents even knowing you could tell that he had done his homework and so he would probably be well versed with the consequences. But he went ahead and did it anyways. At least he made a choice. Whether it was the right one can be debated.

Although the notion of donating your organ is a highly noble one I feel the choice between giving your organ away for free or selling it for cash must be left up to the individual. Let the individual make a choice. Because at the end of it the seller is losing an organ so if he wants to be compensated for that then he damn right should be. He is even saving a life in the process. So let us not sit in the judgement seat on that count.

This may be me in a totally idealistic frame of thought but sometimes I catch myself wishing that the trade be made legalized through hospitals itself because it would give the recipients and sellers a safer platform for carrying out the trade. It would also remove the need for middlemen since recipients and sellers will be in direct contact with each other through a medical professional. Also a going rate for organs must be fixed, standardized and affordable so that the seller does not cheat the recipient in the process and so the organ becomes like something of a commodity which can be bought at a certain price. The going rate for kidneys range in the black market now range from anywhere below $ 10,000 to $ 4, 00,000. Since for most part the setting of the price depends on the seller, the recipient may bend to his will, but if a going rate is set then both parties will have to adhere to the same and it may discourage a lot of people who are entering the trade merely to make a lot of money. How would this affect the poorer sections of society then? Again from an idealistic point of view they aren’t paid a lot for their organs anyways. If a going rate is set then not only are they promised a reasonable amount of compensation but are even guaranteed safe operating conditions, both of which they don’t receive most of the time. If the middlemen would be removed there would be less pressure for them to sell their organs leaving more room for the poor people to decide for themselves. It would remove the concept of the black market out because people would be able to advertise the need for their organs through legal means of advertising and the trade would become more transparent. Maybe people may even change their attitudes towards it one day. Maybe people would stop getting killed for their organs since there are many willing sellers already present in what would then be a legal trade.

Maybe I’m bonkers even putting all of this down. But again that is the choice I get to make and well your choice to judge me (although I wish you wouldn’t). I open the floor for discussion.


128 thoughts on “ARE YOU KIDNEY-ING ME?

  1. The article is a good read… I like your suggestion but u should think about its consequences as well. No matter what you do to make the organ trading benefiting to both the seller and the recipient there’s always a scope for some people to misuse this trade to make money. I think that legalizing the organ trading won’t curb the malpractices but yeah it may reduce it considerably…

    • yes babes that is but obvious but i’m off the opinion that it would be better than all the under the table transactions that seems to be happening nowadays

  2. Nice one, Zuleika. It’s a contentious issue and it’s definitely something one needs to bring to the forefront. I guess saving a life (not at the cost of another’s) trumps everything. Even law.

    • hey babes yes the life gets saved but more importantly whether u choose to save that life taking cash or not seems to be the issue of the day…cheers babes ….we’re all in dis together

  3. A very different topic highlighted in the right manner . I totally agree with your opinion on the Black market has to be gotten rid off. At the end “saving lives” is the best gift one can give to humanity .

  4. hey, dear,
    I liked the article in terms of the writing style. but I don’t agree to the discussion of making choices. I believe that choices have their consequences and one can’t say that it is an individual’s choice. As we know that the way we think or react to a given situation , depends upon the way in which we have been socialized and therefore, making choices is one thing; especially with regards to life that one can’t judge. But I am glad to read such an article from you ………all the best!

    • but choice should be the basis of atleast this issue…m not applyin it to any other issue but this…leave it to the individal to take cash or not to take cash but let him decide and dont be critical of him because one day the same thing may happen to you!

  5. Really do agree with you Zuleika !!!
    Its upto each persons discretion to do what they want to do, whether if they need the money by legally trading their organs or just someone in need who actually has the money to spend !!!
    But all in all a good read and a nice peep into the moral legality of it !!!

  6. Are you kidney-ing?? lol interesting article. Very true we might have strong views at this point but when you or your family member is in that situation, nothing else but life will be the priority. I want to live and will go to any extent i can to save myself or my close people. 🙂 Yes, organized system for the trade if in place will help to an extent. But we know corruption has entered our blood so our kidneys are also corrupt, lol. The poor will suffer 😛

    • lol yogen thats an interesting way to put it in da philososphical sense…if that were the case philosophically then i think we’re all in need of kidneys…rather we’d all be dead and no one old bother then…

  7. I think you hit it right on the nail when you talk about standardizing the economics of the trade to make it more accessible as well as transparent. However, I think it’s almost trivializing the notion freedom and choice when you give the example of the child who traded his kidney for an i-pod. I will tell to how- with freedom to exercise your choice also comes great responsibility. A kidney is an excretory organ. For a child, given the rate of his metabolism, the rate of excretion will be higher as well. Forcefully, driving the function to one kidney is dangerous and detrimental to his health. And as he grows older, his risks of kidney failure will be higher, and more likely than not, he’d have to undergo regular dialysis to balance out the pressure. And I think an i-pod is too trivial a price to pay. So, yes- having a legalized platform might be helpful such that it ensures consultation for such procedures as well.

    • yes babes the reason i mentioned the kid was because many criticised him calling him a whacko and out of his mind types….but the thing is maybe he was aware of what he was doing because like i said when the trade is illegal more research goes into it….let him make the choice was my gesture…because maybe he was dumb enough to do it…maybe he wasnt afraid of facing the consequences

  8. Hey Zuleika this is a very debatable topic and should be discussed and a solution should be found. The way you have presented it is wonderful !!
    Many a times we judge those people who trade their organs but we forget that the circumstances they were in might be so grave because of which they turned to this.
    Yes this should be legalized so that those thousands of people who give their kidneys willingly are not cheated and also so that people are not forced and can decide on their own.But in India such movements take a lot of time to be implemented. Nevertheless if the awareness is created now then definately some action would be taken in the future.

  9. Totally agree with you! Its really a dicey topic to open to discussion, but each one is entitled to what they wish to do with their organs. I am all for legally trading of organs and against the opposite!

  10. i agree with the legal trade of organs……but i must put in the fact that most people who read this will object to the practice of providing the organ to the highest bidder…but the thing is nobody how they themselves may react when they are faced with the situation…..suppose u have a loved one……maybe a 2 year old kid in need of a kidney …..n u r financially well-off….u will not be worried about the moral ramifications then …u will only be worried about saving ur kids life……the thing is no matter how much they legalize organ donation….ppl will still find a way 2 bypass it… fter all its always 2 each its own…..

  11. i know vijit thats a valid point u’ve stated and many people have raised that topic-that we are all creatures who fall pray to our survival instincts when faced with death or the death of a loved one-we may do anything to save them including kill another…that raises the question of ethics i agree but legalizing it and controlling it will ensure that less people find ways to bypass the system.

  12. Every person has the right to decide what they want to do with their body parts…..or dont they??

    A very well written article on a very sensitive issue…cheers!:)

  13. This has become such a racket, apologise for late kidney-ing:) it is a well written issue on a ongoing racket but thats because of the poverty line to pay up hospital bills etc. but then do they have a choice? although even if everyone has a right to do whatsoever with their body parts still it can be controlled and done in a legal way so that nobody is cheated also.

    well written topic, makes sense:) any body listening

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