Press Release – University of Auckland
Failing to legalise the trade of body organs is fuelling a global black market and killing sick and vulnerable Kiwis.
That’s the view of UC master’s student Rachel Walsh, who is arguing to legalise the trade of body organs in her 60,000-word law thesis. In researching the topic she has discovered a flourishing black market in body organs where it is possible to go online and – within an hour – buy a kidney from India for $20,000.
She uncovered stories of poor and unsafe medical procedures related to organ extraction, as well as stories of people being exploited, kidnapped and attacked for their organs.
“It is important to realise that just because we may find the trade of body organs immoral or culturally offensive, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The truth is that it is happening.
“In fact, I argue that people are more vulnerable and the system more prone to exploitation without legal regulation.
“In my mind it’s time to wake up to this fact. It’s time we legalised the trade of body organs in New Zealand and around the world – and by doing so, made it safer for people to give and receive organs,” Ms Walsh says.
She says more and more New Zealanders rely on the donation of body organs, particularly kidneys, with the rapid rise of diseases such as diabetes.
Yet data shows New Zealanders are usually forced to wait indefinitely to receive an organ because Kiwis are some of the least likely people in the world to donate them.
The high demand and poor supply of body organs puts people’s lives at risk and causes them to look outside the health system to the black market for answers, says Ms Walsh.
A raft of legal changes could give New Zealand a ready supply of affordable body organs that have been harvested ethically and safely. Such changes could also mean people would get them in a timely way.
Ms Walsh says the law could regulate the buying and selling of organs through price setting or incentivising organ donation through tax breaks and paid state funerals.