In defense of a regulated market in kidneys from living vendors

J Med Philos. 2005 Dec;30(6):593-626. doi: 10.1080/03605310500421397.


The current system of organ procurement which relies on donation is inadequate to the current and future need for transplantable kidneys. The growing disparity between demand and supply is accompanied by a steep human cost. I argue that a regulated market in organs from living vendors is the only plausible solution, and that objections common to opponents of organ markets are de-feasible. I argue that a morally defensible market in kidneys from living vendors includes four characteristics: (1) the priority of safety for both vendors and recipients, (2) transparency regarding the risks to vendors and recipients, (3) institutional integrity regarding guidelines for cooperating with kidney vendors, and (4) operation under a rule of law. I conclude with some remarks on remaining problems with this account, and offer some suggestions as to how these problems might be addressed.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Commerce*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / economics*
  • Kidney Transplantation / ethics
  • Kidney Transplantation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Living Donors / ethics*
  • Living Donors / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Motivation
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / legislation & jurisprudence