Organ Vouchers and Barter Markets: Saving Lives, Reducing Suffering, and Trading in Human Organs

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 42 (5):503-517 (2017)
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Abstract

The essays in this issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy explore an innovative voucher program for encouraging kidney donation. Discussions cluster around a number of central moral and political/theoretical themes: What are the direct and indirect health care costs and benefits of such a voucher system in human organs? Do vouchers lead to more effective and efficient organ procurement and allocation or contribute to greater inequalities and inefficiencies in the transplantation system? Do vouchers contribute to the inappropriate commodification of human body parts? Is there a significant moral difference between such a voucher system and a market in human organs for transplantation? This paper argues that while kidney vouchers constitute a step in the right direction, fuller utilization of market-based incentives, including, but not limited to, barter exchanges, would save more lives and further reduce human suffering.

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