Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Alastair V. Campbell On 'Organ Trade'

Yesterday there was a dialog among policy makers in Singapore over the possible amendment in HOTA (Human Organ Transplant Act), reported 93.8 Live FM. Singapore's Health Minister was reported saying that the compensation (read: trading price) for organ donors has to be a 5 digit amount. The report can be found in today's The Straits Times.

A few months ago Prof. Campbell wrote a short article on the July 10 Straits Times newspaper on organ trading. He states clearly in the article that 'ethical and regulated market' for organ has more negative effects than positive ones.

Here are some other good points he gave:

  • Organ trading is wrong in principle because it presupposes that the body is a piece of property akin to our material possessions (house, car, etc). While a body part like a kidney is alienable, meaning it can be transferred to another, it is certainly not fungible (easily replaced by something similar) or commensurable (its value quantified and compared to another object).

    The gift of an organ is different from selling it, since the organ is gifted out of the wish to benefit another person, not for financial gain.

  • Organ trading has negative social effects in that it undercuts the gift relationship between donors and recipients. Gift ethic or altruism - with its effect on social solidarity - is the rationale for many current procurement systems for cadaveric organs.

    If a live organ market is instituted, many people may opt out from altruistic giving - thus reducing the supply of transplantable organs. A recent study in Austria has shown that financial incentives would have this effect. Demand may also be made for certain forms of payment for cadaveric organs.

  • There is a strong reason for a universal ban on organ trading by all countries (except Iran). Once this barrier is breached, it is hard to justify why the law should not allow the live body trade to be extended to other "expendable" parts like hands and single eye corneas.

Prof. Campbell will be taking part in a forum on euthanasia next month.


Tay said...

Hi Joshua

I showed Campbell's Straits Times article to my church youths in our organ trade discussion. Think it was well written. Also saw him at a Chimera-Stem Cell Research forum held at Biopolis some months ago, though he is the MC and so he did not give a speech. Would have wanted to hear him speak!

So, looking forward to the euthanasia forum. Thank you for the information!


Sze Zeng said...

Hi Derrick,

Glad the info is helpful.
I haven't meet Prof. Campbell himself, so I'm also looking forward to it.

See you at the forum!