Coming across a BBC news story about how experts in the UK has warned against the buying and selling of organs in the UK which has already gone online. A search via Google to look for more information about this issue (not for organs on sale) has caused me to pause and think about many things connected to this issue. Ethics, morals, personal beliefs I hold went racing in my mind as I try to put my foot down on some position or stand on this matter.
Am I against the organ trade? If not how would I argue to support it? And if I support it, would I one day be willing to donate some of my organs to prove I’m not a hypocrite? Some of the many questions that boggle my mind as I grapple with this issue so old yet it is only now that I have chanced upon it.
Though the international health and medical community condemns and warns strongly against the sale of organs, and it is banned in some countries like the United Kingdom, here in the Philippines the organ trade is alive and continuing on.
A lot has already been said, written and published about the organ trade, particularly the buying and selling of kidneys here in the country. Thanks again to the Internet for making such literature available and to Google for helping us where to find it.
Back in 1999, John Einar Sandvand wrote a piece about “Kidneys for Sale” here in the Philippines. It opens with the following:
What do you do when there is no work? When your children are dying, and you cannot afford to pay a doctor? In the Bagong Lupa slum area in the Filipino capital at least 150 men have chosen to sell one of their kidneys.
Poverty, desperation, the love for a family member, middlemen looking to make some profit out it, insufficient laws and health professionals skirting the edges between right and wrong all have bred and kept alive this seemingly underground trade of human organs. Again John summarizes it all;
As in many countries, there is a great need for human organs for transplantation in the Philippines. Only a fraction of relatives approached after the death of a family member accept donating organs for people in need. And not all patients have relatives willing to sacrifice one of their own kidneys.
This situation makes some rich patients choose to open their wallet in search of a person who is willing to help save their lives.
Let’s be thankful that pawnshops all over the country do not accept human organs, otherwise there would be a boom in that industry. Another great piece on this issue was written by Sheila M. Rothman and Davie J. Rothman. “The Organ” has a more global perspective, with stories from China, Thailand, United States, Singapore and in the Philippines to which the authors have shown how the kidney disease, its treatment via dialysis and later on transplantations holds a special place in our history:
Kidney disease, it turns out, occupies a special place in the history of the Philippines because Ferdinand Marcos suffered from it. He had his own collection of dialysis machines; when
dialysis failed, he had two kidney transplants. (The surgeons, we were told, were flown in from the United States.) Marcos built the most impressive medical facility in Manila, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI). It remains the leading public transplant center in the country, performing more transplants than any other hospital, public or private.
Truly that diseases spares no one, rich or poor are all afflicted. The issues with the kidney trade however starts at the point on how both rich and poor seek ways to remedy their situations. Ironically, this entails the bridging of the gap between the two social classes, in a manner that is, well, not that good. The poor, seeking ways to save themselves from hunger and misery sells one of their kidneys to the sick rich who could afford such organs only to prolong their stay here on earth in order to increase their wealth. A vicious cycle in which our government has acted so little upon and our society has so long lived with but has refused to really do something about it.