As we jam on our monthly Wired column deadline, we thought we’d give y’all something to chew over—a interesting snippet pulled from this excellent Discover piece about the kidney black market in India. Given our philosophical leanings, we generally find ourselves arguing for the legalization and regulation of kidney sales. But then we come across data points like this, and we’re forced to re-evaluate:
Iran, which has allowed kidney donations for cash since 1988, has virtually eliminated the waiting list for the organ. A survey of 500 Iranian donors who received $1,200 and a year of medical insurance from the government found that their quality of life, as measured by factors like financial condition and psychological health, remained poor three to six months after the donation. “Nobody denies that most donors live in extreme poverty; many are drug addicts,” says WHO’s Noël. “There is candid recognition in Iran now that the scheme is working well only for the recipients.”
More on the Iranian experience here. Does this mean that, should a legalized kidney market come to fruition, that donors must be subjected to “fitness tests” to ensure that the financial windfall they receive will be put to good use? Or would that be too much government meddling?