Delmonico stressed that a regulated organ market will result in the poor in developing nations like the Philippines, who are not well to begin with, would be worse off after a kidney transplant. He also believes that if organ sales are permitted, prospective kidney donors from a country like the Philippines may travel to countries like the United States where they could receive more money for their kidneys.
The National Organ Transplantation Act (NOTA) of 1984 regulates the gifting of human organs but bans the vending of them. Free market capitalists want to amend this law to permit commercial marketing programs.
Delmonico's paper cites the 2004 resolution of the World Health Assembly that calls on member states "to take measures to protect the poorest and vulnerable groups from transplant tourism and the sale of tissues and organs, including attention to the wider problem of international trafficking in human tissues and organs."
In what may be the first time this editor has ever supported anything advanced by a member of the Bush administration, Samuel Crowe, a senior policy analyst with the President's Council on Bioethics, stressing that he was speaking for himself, said "humans cannot be sold and traded" and any suggestion that human parts could be commodities "degrades human society."
Delmonico said their were practical reasons to oppose the commercial marketing of human organs. They include the fact that current transplant resources are shifting away from younger people with "longer life years from transplant" (LYFT) to older persons with limited longevity and that if a commercial market for kidneys takes shape the "market" will shift away from post-death donors of hearts, pancreas, lungs, and livers, thus impacting the altruistic donor population in favor of the commercial sales of kidneys market.
Delmonico decried the fact that Israel is outsourcing kidney and liver transplants to Colombia and the Philippines. Israel has, in the past, been a center for dubious human organ trafficking operations. It is also the case that Palestinian prisoners in Israel have sought to sell their kidneys to feed their children. The Israel Medical Association is opposing a bill that would allow the donors of certain organs to be reimbursed by the state. The group claims this will "open the door" to organ sales.
The Cato seminar drew a number of representatives from the U.S. government including the National Institutes of Health, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Health and Human Services, and Senator Mike Crapo's (R-ID) office.
In a related medical matter, revelations about the "Bodies" exhibition that displays "plastinated" human bodies from China and the sources of those bodies has prompted investigations by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. Investigators want to know if the bodies used in the exhibit are truly "unclaimed" as maintained by the exhibit company, Premier Exhibition.