The Red Market
I know, I know- this month colour is pink because of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
However, one good cause shouldn’t stop us talking about the other important issues occurring around the world now should it?
For those of you who are unaware, the Red Market is the term used to refer the illegal transplant donor market. (In short a black market for organs). As I had recently had to do a research project on ways of legalizing the Red Market for MUN, I thought I would share a bit of information about the Red Market and the importance of organ donation (This principle extends to blood donation as well!)
1) Where is organ donor trade legal?
It’s actually illegal in every other country except for Iran! Even in Iran it has been restricted so that it is now a strictly domestic trade. (That means no foreigners are legally allowed to buy in the market)
2) Why is it banned in most countries?
Excuse me, as an economic student I’ll try and keep this explanation as simple as possible. Basically, in the world there is a real shortage of organs and thereby if the market is legalized that means the demand for the organs would be really high. This would naturally result in prices sky rocketing. Even if a price control mechanism was implemented naturally it will be those who have the money and means (e.g. powerful business men) who will gain the organs. The poor and needy would have less access to them.
3) The solutions to legalizing the organ trade?
The solution is one I have devised after reading some articles (so feel free to read, CRITISIZE and please send feedback if you have any!) I think a good approach would be a three pronged system:
1) Regulating the sellers: The majority of people who actually sell are those who feel they have no choice. This often means the poor or destitute. People should be properly educated on the ramifications of organ donor systems. Ultimately this is a problem which can only be eradicated by tackling poverty. Nevertheless, for those who wish to donate organs they should have proper means of legal recourse in order to help enforce their contracts. That means there is less chance of them being cheated of their pay and can help enforce proper medical procedures.
2) Government intervention: Ultimately there has to be some government intervention. Personally, I think governments should ensure there are special state hospitals which can specifically address organ transplant procedures. Furthermore they should have a proper registry with potential donors and critical patients… although this system is already implemented in many countries it should be expounded to handle a large scale of people. Furthermore some countries (in Europe in particular) have implemented a presumed consent theory. Thus it means everyone is presumed to have given their consent for organ harvesting UNLESS consent is expressly withdrawn. However, statistics have proven this had not led to a massive increase in organ donors as usually it’s customary to still ask permission. Greater focus should be on media and educational campaigns to enlighten people on the need for organs and to cultivate support for the cause. Then a greater amount of people may donate.
The governments can go one step further and nationalize all organ sales, by buying the organs and giving them to patients. Ultimately many transplants rarely find precise matches and organs are a limited resource. Hence I believe (even though many would disagree with me) the government should ensure the best match gets the organ, not the highest bidder. Some people may cry “what if there is corruption in government?”
Obviously this is a method which would only work for stable governments. Others will say that governments do not have financial resources to buy organs. However they do have other means… such as preferential treatment for family members and spouses of those who donate or tax reductions. When there is a will, there is a way.
Regulating the buyers: Foreigners with large paychecks are the worst offenders who boost the Red Market. International laws and criminal procedures should be tightened for those who seek organs outside of their own country. After all, a line has to be drawn somewhere even if often these are desperate people looking to extend their own mortality.
Just my thoughts.. prehaps a one day reality 🙂