Organ Sales Effect on the Cost of Dialysis - Essay Example

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Wesleyan University
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Argumentative essay
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Organ sales have been a sensitive topic for many nations. There are a lot of issues related to morality and ethics associated with this question. The U.S is currently fighting against crimes that involve trafficking people for organ harvesting. Such vices are only present due to the strict rules that are associated with organ sales. Despite being illegal, organ sales will continue to increase in number due to the rise of chronic infections that require organ transplants. It is evident that the medical discipline continues to be complicated by the day. People get attacked by new diseases, a problem that medical professionals take time to counter. For this reason, organ donation has become the quickest way to combat infections on vital organs. However, there are few organs available in medical institutions. Even when possible, there is a list of recipients waiting for an organ transplant. Despite the perceived shortage, healthy people are willing to donate their organs at a fee. The situation is a paradox of sorts. The medical society has made it clear that people can sell some of their organic content such as a sperm or an ovum. However, in the case of a right kidney, all parties benefit except the donor. The medical personnel gets paid for their services; the recipient gets to live longer, while the donor only gets to enjoy the feeling of having saved a life. Were payments made available for donors, medical professionals would tend to more patients thus saving more lives (Marcovitz, 2010). Although organ sales in the US are currently illegal, regulating the sales of kidneys could decrease time on the waiting list, minimize cost to the government for dialysis patients, and increase the quality of life for donor recipients. Dialysis is used during the end-stage kidney failure to replace the functions of the kidneys including waste removal and regulation of blood levels of sodium and potassium.

The costs of dialysis care treatments are high in the United States as well as other countries in the world. The costs burden lies on the patients as well as the government. With the increasing number of kidney patients in the world today, this translates to an increased cost of dialysis treatment of the patients as well as the indirect costs associated with the procedure. Dialysis had become so expensive to an extent the United States Congress expanded the Medicare program in 1973 to include coverage for any patients who needed the care treatment (Garella, 1997). The initial expansion was meant to cover 10,000 patients. During this moment the maximum cost for this Medicare coverage was estimated to about $200 million a year. However this figure today can be estimated at $1.1 billion. The estimated number of patients during this period is way far below the number of patients currently receiving dialysis treatment today. In the year 2013, the total number of patients who underwent dialysis was 468,000 patients according to the U.S Renal Data System. This figure represents a 47 percent increase from the estimated value in 1975 over a 40-year span (Garella, 1997. The number of patients expected to receive dialysis treatment by 2020 is triple the number today. This can be attributed to the fact that there is a general rise in diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions. Medicare program in the United States currently spends a total of $34 billion a year in dialysis care. This number does not include the patients who receive dialysis care outside the country.

Dialysis costs are mostly covered by health insurance. This is so because the prices are high and a burden to patients. For patients covered by health insurance, they too have to incur other expenses during the dialysis treatment procedure. These costs are referred to as typical costs. They include the deductible as well as the coinsurance for the treatment cost. However, many Medicare patients have a secondary insurance cover which covers both the dialysis costs as well as the coinsurance and deductible treatment costs. Patients who lack a health insurance cover incur far much higher costs in the treatment. A single hemodialysis treatment costs approximately $500. This translates to $72,000 per year provided that patients have to undergo dialysis 2-3 times a week. Emergency dialysis cost more. A peritoneal dialysis requires dialysis procedure to be performed on the patient at home. The cost will include medical supplies mostly thus is much lower than a hemodialysis. Dialysis treatment also requires surgery to create vascular access in a hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis also requires surgery to insert a catheter in the abdomen of the patient. In case the patient undergoes dialysis at home, additional costs of special wiring and plumbing will be required.

Regulating the sale of kidneys would have a positive impact on the cost of dialysis treatment. A kidney transplant cures the patient entirely thus they do not have to rely on dialysis treatment. Dialysis costs incurred by the government as well as the individual will be reduced eventually. Apart from lowering the dialysis treatment costs, legalization of kidney sales will also ensure that the government minimizes or eliminates costs associated with illegal transplants. Legalization of kidney sales, for instance, will regulate the kidney sales and thus ensure that participants carry out the transactions within the law. A relatable example in this situation is the legalization of marijuana in some American states. The same case applies to the case of kidney sales. There are two significant facts in this case that require the regulation of organs: first, the list of people that need organ transplants increases by the day and second, the global economy today has left many individuals at near poverty socioeconomic status (Ackley, 2016). These two conditions can be described as extremes. To survive one needs to be in good health and financially stable. Merging these two concepts will see the lives of many people changed. However, the fact that organ sales are illegal has led to crimes associated with organ transplants. Criminals tend to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities to make profits. The forbidden nature of organ sales has led to increased murder rates due to the need to meet the demands of patients. The crime scope has moved from a local to an international setting. People from third world countries are smuggled into the U.S for organ transplants, and in return, they get to live in the country (Held et al., 2016). The situation gets worse for the people that carry out these procedures are not certified physicians. Additionally, the environment in which the transplants put the donor and the recipient is at risk of further infections. Were organ sales regulated, individuals could voluntarily donate their organized in a friendlier environment at a fee? Consequently, the crime rates associated with murders and human trafficking would sharply decrease. This improves the quality of life of the patients as well as their immediate family regarding health, security and financial wise.

Additionally time is an essential factor for a person that needs an organ transplant. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a patient is only listed on the waiting list once their organs reach end-stage organ failure. At this point, therapy cannot save a patient. There are many factors associated with when a patient receives treatment. These factors are such as the cost of obtaining the transplant, the technical capacity of healthcare to successfully deliver the operation and the availability of the required organs. The stated factors are linked to gravitated extents. However, the determinant factor is the availability of the organs. According to research, more than 66,000 individuals require kidney transplants annually on a global scale (Shimazono, 2007). WHO has acknowledged that organ shortage is a worldwide problem that is linked to socio-cultural and legal factors. The government through Medicare accepts most patients with the end-stage renal disease. However, there is a waiting period of a between 1-4 months. This waiting period may increase the mortality rates of the patients since most cases are discovered late. Through legalization of organ sales, the government will be able to reduce mortality rates caused as a result of increasing waiting lists of dialysis patients.

In conclusion, dialysis care has improved over the years since the treatment was introduced. The therapy has adjusted mortality rates among patients. Mortality has dropped nearly 36% between 2001 and 2013. The legalization of organ sales in the United States will ensure that the various costs both at the individual level and government level associated with dialysis treatment are minimized. Time on the waiting list to undergo dialysis will be eliminated since patients do not have to rely on dialysis but instead kidney transplants. The patients quality of life is also set to improve with the legalization of organ sales.


Ackley, K. A. (2016). Perspectives on Contemporary Issues. Cengage Learning.

Garella, S. (1997). The costs of dialysis in the USA. Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation: official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association-European Renal Association, 12, 10-21.

Held, P. J., McCormick, F., Ojo, A., & Roberts, J. P. (2016). A costbenefit analysis of government compensation of kidney donors. American Journal of Transplantation, 16(3), 877-885.

Marcovitz, H. (2010). Organ and Body Donation. ABDO.Shimazono, Y. (2007). The state of the international organ trade: a provisional picture based on integration of available information. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 85(12), 955-962.


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