2018, Rhetoric + Argumentation

Examining the Ethics of the Iranian Kidney Market

DAVID D’AMBRISI

In the sphere of organ transplantation laws, Iran stands alone. Unlike all other nations, Iran allows its citizens to sell their “extra” kidney in exchange for cash, loans, and better health insurance. This market solution has largely eliminated kidney shortages persistent in countries with no market, and in turn, the Iranian market has allowed sick patients to undergo transplant surgery before they succumb to renal disease. Although these positive attributes may exist, many observers remain unconvinced and believe that the Iranian kidney market disrespects sellers and exploits those who live in poverty in Iran.

My paper serves as a case analysis of the Iranian market and concludes that the Iranian kidney market is not only permissible but also morally imperative. I first examine the consequences of potential markets and the Iranian market and find that while negative outcomes exist, these negative results are not caused by the commodification of kidneys. Rather, the Iranian kidney market produces tremendous good by eliminating organ shortages. Next, I consider whether the Iranian market is ethical while disregarding the consequences of the market. I conclude that the Iranian market enhances the autonomy of sellers. Not only can individuals sell kidneys as they desire, but also, the Iranian market is regulated such that a combination of non-profits, the government, and physicians foster informed consent practices that would otherwise be missing in a black market. Lastly, I recommend that other countries institute regulated kidney markets similar to those in Iran.

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