Mike Beversluis

Monday, July 13, 2009

So I woke up in a bathtub filled with ice with a note to get immediate medical attention

Virginia Postrel wrote a great essay about the long kidney donor list, where many people die while waiting, and proposes paying donors to alleviate this. Which is a classic repugnant transaction, as you're only supposed to give organs to your loved ones for free or if you crash your motorcycle, etc. But (A), our current system is worse in practice, and (B) it already exists for medical tourists, who can go to the right clinic abroad to meet up with some third-world donor. So it seems inevitable. However, if you're going to advocate such a practice, I couldn't help but ask myself how much it would take to get me to donate.

My informal poll at work suggested no one there wanted to, although it's not quite fair to spring that question on someone over the water cooler. I think it's different if there's a real offer - both ways. Someone showing up with a suitcase full of money is a bit tangible than a number pulled out of thin air, but sitting down for the anesthesia is just as serious. Myself - I'd have to look into the long-term risks, but if the procedure really is as low-risk as she makes out, I would be tempted for a much lower number than infinity - somewhere in the range of "capital".

Finally, it'd be a lot different for me if the need was less critical and the donation more debilitating - having someone volunteer to give up a cornea, for instance, would be too far. Or so I think.



  • I say stick with physics. I think it even pays better than ethics, or kidneys for that matter.

    By Anonymous Laura, at 14 July, 2009 00:40  

  • I should apologize for that snarky remark. Sorry.
    Although, I can't decide if my comment would help or hinder me in the future - if I were to require one of your kidneys.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 July, 2009 00:46  

  • A) Physics and donating a kidney aren't mutually exclusive.

    B) You have a couple of other options, no?

    By Blogger Mike Beversluis, at 14 July, 2009 07:17  

  • A)I suppose you could sell your kidney and pay a mortgage of 2 months sooner.
    B) I don't think any of my other options would be so kind as to sell me any of their organs.

    By Anonymous Laura, at 15 July, 2009 04:27  

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