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Organ Donation: Keeping the Gift of Life Alive

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Essay title: Organ Donation: Keeping the Gift of Life Alive

Organ Donation: Keeping the Gift of Life Alive

The process of gift giving is the act in which someone voluntarily offers a present for someone else, without compensation. Although there are certain instances where reciprocity of gifts is expected, organ donation should not be a game of Secret Santa. Across the nation, people in need of transplants sit on a waiting list while the war on organ donation ethics continues. Some people are on the list up until their demise or get lucky, much like psychiatrist and author Sally Satel did. In her article “Death’s Waiting List”, Satel speaks of her fortunate experience of receiving a donated kidney and then proceeds to her desire to allow the market sale of human organs, so that others can be as opportune as she was (Critical Reading Thinking and Writing 133). On the contrary, Donald Joralemon and Phil Cox, authors of the article “Body Values: The Case Against Compensating for Transplant Organs,” believe the market sale of organs will lead to an increase in objectification of the human body (The Hastings Center Report 29). The most rational solution to our nation’s organ donation debate is to initiate the practice of “Presumed Consent,” the policy in which all citizens are to be considered a donor at death, unless they sign an anti-donor card (Satel 133). By enforcing presumed consent, Satel’s proposal of financial compensation is eliminated and Joralemon and Cox’s apprehension towards the human body becoming property is compromised, allowing for voluntary gifts of life and a greater supply of organs.

In her essay, Satel proclaims that selling human organs is the best solution to increase the amount of donors. She mentions her awareness to the seemingly unethical concept, but disregards the concept of moral values in a desperate manner. The argument here is the “body as self” versus “body as property” view, as explained by Joralemon and Cox (30). The “body as self” view focuses on a person’s identity thought to remain with the human body after the physical death, and the “body as property” view ignores spiritual notions and favors scientific use of the being (32). Here in America, our entities revolve around numerous religions, philosophies, and morals in which Satel fails to take into consideration. Some may favor the property view over the self view, and others may not care at all. It is this variety of values that the practice of presumed consent will take care of. A person who is against donating their bodily organs can sign the “opt-out” also known as an anti-donor card (Satel 133). Americans who are supportive will assume their bodies will be donated to science, and leave it at that. As William Shakespeare put it, “To thine own self be true.” It is up to ones own personal value system whether or not they should become a donor.

Joralemon and Cox believe that allowing compensation for organs will have negative effects on the ethics of our society by exploiting the human body in comparison to other activities that involve promoting one’s dangerous behavior. “Selling an organ is not different in kind from selling one’s labor in other, often quite legal, ways – commercial surrogate motherhood, choosing to work a very risky job, and in some jurisdictions, the sexual service industry” (30). Although organ donation is an unfair association to prostitution, they are correct when arguing that getting paid for organs will

allow citizens to take advantage of the financial aspect of donating. Satel mentions the fact that poor people will be most attracted to this proposal, but optimistically outweighs

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