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Kidney Discussion

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Kidney

Whether or not we should be able to sell our non-essential organs is a complicated topic which is also very controversial. One on hand, the freedom to sell a non-essential organ seems like it should be our decision to make, not the governments. However, this could lead to individuals getting taken advantage of and people abusing the system. In this discussion post, I will review both sides of this topic and come to a conclusion based on the pros and cons. 

In chapter 11, we learned about the kidney and its role in the urinary system. We have two kidneys and each kidney is responsible for filtration, reabsorption, and secretion of urine. This prevents the body from becoming toxic. While we can live with only one kidney, it is healthier to have both. We also learned about kidney transplantation in chapter 11, where it is described as "one of medicine's success stories. Kidney transplantation leads the field of organ replacement, with many patients being on waiting lists" (page 564). Interestingly enough, the statistics showed, "Of the 10,000 kidney transplants done annually in the United States, 75% are performed on patients with diabetes, adrenal failure, hypertensive renal disease, and glomerulonephritis" (p564).  End-stage renal disease, or ESRD, is evidently the primary reason for dialysis and kidney transplantation. 

In the first article, the authors explain how the poor would be exploited by the rich if kidneys were able to be sold legally. They state, "People living in extreme poverty are often desperate and ill-informed. Profit seekers would take advantage of this, obtaining "consent" from those who feel compelled by necessity to sell their organs, and who may not have a clear idea of the consequences of what they were doing." I agree with the authors on this point and believe that the system would be abused. Poor, uneducated individuals would be more inclined to sell their kidney and they may not understand the health risks and future problems that might create. I believe this is similar to selling one's eggs or sperm, but taking it one step further by selling an actual organ. That being said, if a safe, regulatory system was created to monitor and screen those individuals adamant about selling their kidney, then I could see how that may work well for both parties. 

In the second article, the author discusses the risks and benefits of a free market in organs. She explains how Iran is the only country in the world where kidney sale is legal.  She also includes how a social stigma is attached to selling your kidney in some cultures; that many middle eastern countries look down upon men who sell their kidneys and even shun them for doing so. Interestingly enough, the author interviewed two individuals on this topic: Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist at the University of California-Berkeley and director of Organ Watch, an NGO opposed to the buying and selling of kidneys, and Amy Friedman, a surgeon specializing in kidney transplants at Yale University, who has published an article in the magazine "Kidney International" calling for the creation of a regulated market for kidneys. Both Scheper-Hughes and Friedman had a perspective which I believe was looking out for mankind. Scheper-Hughes does not want an organ market to develop into a monster which abuses the poor. While, Friedman points out that a blackmarket already exists and this could save countless lives of people dying from kidney failure. Overall, this is a very sensitive topic and it is easy to relate to both sides. 

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