Debra J. Saunders, a syndicated columnist, writes about the black market in organs:
Two years ago, the New York Times ran a story about a 48-year-old Brooklyn woman who, facing death after years of dialysis treatments and failing health, received a kidney from a Brazilian peasant who was paid $6,000 for the organ. The chilling story bared the human misery that surrounds the black market on human parts. Some donors faced ill health and even (unlike the recipients) prosecution. The kidney recipient talked to the Times reporter, but felt enough shame that she did not want her name in the newspaper.
Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story by reporter Vanessa Hua about a San Mateo, Calif., man who flew to Shanghai and paid $110,000 for a liver -- with nary a thought about human-rights activists' contention that China has executed prisoners in order to harvest their organs. Not only was Eric De Leon's name in the paper, he even has a blog about his Shanghai transplant. The man clearly is not ashamed.
Saunders seems to disapprove of those who have purchased black market organs. Her revulsion over the sale of organs from executed prisoners is understandable, but she fails to draw the right policy conclusion: legalize the purchase and sale of organs.
Legalization would vastly expand the supply of organs available for transplant, helping millions of the sick and dying. And legalization would vastly diminish the kinds of abuses that Saunders decries by permitting private and/or government oversight of organ sales.