In a Divorce, Who Gets the Organs?
Dr. Richard Batista’s wife’s health was failing, and so was their marriage. To save them both, he offered to be the kidney donor his wife Dawnell badly needed.
Dawnell recovered, but their marriage didn’t. A few years later she filed for divorce. Now her husband says he wants his kidney back. If he can’t have it, he wants a payment of $1.5 million, the estimated worth of the organ.
Medical ethicists say Batista is unlikely to get either, as it’s illegal to exchange money for an organ and the law is clear that no gift, once given, can be forcibly taken back.
This is a sad story on all fronts. But would it be possible 10 or 20 years from now? As Dubner and Levitt wrote in The Times Magazine, our repugnance toward assigning monetary value to human life has grown, receded, and changed over time.
How long until, and under what conditions, will a market in donated organs become acceptable?
(Hat tip: Alex Hagen)