Sensible Politicians?

Good Grief! Who ever would have thought it? A sensible idea seriously being considered by politicians?

THE Dutch health minister, Ab Klink, is considering a recommendation to offer free health insurance for life to anyone who donates a kidney for transplant.

A leak of the proposal last week sparked a debate in the Dutch press as to whether it represented the first step towards a trade in human organs. Critics warned that it may put pressure on poorer people to give up their organs.

The scheme was welcomed by transplant campaigners. Bernadette Haase, the director of the Dutch Transplant Foundation, said: “If it is properly run and well organised, it could be a solution.”

A survey commissioned by the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam suggested that the idea would enjoy significant support. It found that up to 15% of the public said they would probably be willing to donate a kidney if they received compensation.

Professor Willem Weimar, who helped to conduct the survey, said potential donors were asked whether they would prefer €50,000 or free health insurance. Up to 80% chose the insurance.

Others called for more radical ways of ending the donor shortage. Andries Hoitsma, a professor of surgery, called for a regulated free market in kidneys with prices of up to €50,000.

As I\’ve noted before, there\’s one country in the world without a kidney shortage. Iran. There\’s also one country in the world with a paid and regulated market in human kidneys. It isn\’t a coincidence.

But don\’t cheer too loudly for this outbreak of common sense. They are, after all, only reversing the previous bad policy. For it is the ban on the trading of organs that the politicians themselves imposed which has led to the problem in the first place.

6 comments on “Sensible Politicians?

  1. Yes well if the problem was simply one of creating an adequate supply of kidneys we all might agree this was an excellent idea. But may I ask, what problem? Some people don’t get a kidney and die? Well, OK, that might be a problem for those people but it is a problem for the rest of us? On the other hand, a society where the rich are literally cannibalising the poor for spare parts, well, that’s a whole different ball game. I think we can do without that. No money for organs. We can’t sell people (and after all the world is full of poor children whose parents might like a little bit of cash), we shouldn’t sell pieces, any pieces, of them either. The market is not the issue here.

  2. How about part of the price of applying for citizenship being signing up for your organs to be harvestable? No, I didn’t think you’d like that.

  3. I could live with signing up for an organ only on condition you agree to let someone else take yours. No blood donations unless you donate first. Nor kidneys unless you offer yours while young. Sound reasonable?

    There’s a short SF story about the Organ Draft. It is, of course, a bitter satire, and not a very good one, on Vietnam.

  4. Subtlety,
    Many folk in need of transplants are not suitable as donors , except perhaps for corneas.

    Any diseases of one major organ, tend to have an adverse impact on the others.

    I can understand the market concept, but dread the complexity of the safeguards. Especially with regard to transplant tourism potentially exploiting the third world. To put it bluntly, this crop can’t reach the world market without wholesalers. The scope for shenanigans is vast.

  5. Monty, I meant that you would sign up when you were 18 or so in the expectation that you might need an organ at some future date. So you’d be fit and healthy and perhaps a good match for someone else a little older and sicker.

    Or of course we could just copy the Chinese and execute more people and the use the spare parts.

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