Private Ordering and Intimate Spaces: Why the Ability to Negotiate is Non-Negotiable
Kidney for Sale by Owner: Human Organs, Transplantation, and the Market. By Mark J. Cherry. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 2005. Pp. ix, 258. $26.95.
For prospective transplant patients, options are limited under the present organ donation model in the United States. Risk takers—patients frustrated by government bureaucracy—now leave the United States and travel straight to the black market in developing countries where the wait for organs is four weeks, instead of four years. They bargain—contract, if you will—for their organs. Nevertheless, their organs are contraband of sorts, obtained by flouting the National Organ Transplant Act, which proscribes the buying and selling of body parts, as well as international protocols prohibiting trafficking in persons and organs. Both the sellers and purchasers of these organs participate in a delicate, if not dangerous, process. Kidneys, lungs, livers, and other body parts are obtained from prisoners on death row in China, from mothers in India wanting food to feed their families, from equally desperate Brazilian and South African men hustling to survive the cruel realities of poverty. Patients acknowledge that organ trafficking is a cruel process within which informed consent may be more illusory than real, but Americans line up to participate. Transplant coordinators can be found on the internet, and because of a failing U.S. transplantation system, most of these patients believe they have no other choice.