J Med Ethics 29:138-139 doi:10.1136/jme.29.3.138
  • Debate
  • Controversy

Is the sale of body parts wrong?

  1. J Savulescu
  1. Oxford Centre for Applied Ethics, University of Oxford, Suite 7, Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK;
    • Accepted 4 October 2002

    In late August 2002, a general practitioner (GP) in London, Dr Bhagat Singh Makkar, 62, was struck off the medical register after he was discovered to have bragged to an undercover journalist about being able to obtain a kidney from a live donor in exchange for a fee. He told the journalist, who posed as the son of a patient with renal failure: “No problem, I can fix that for you. Do you want it done here, do you want it done in Germany or do you want it done in India?” The price he quoted included payment to the donor and “my administration costs”. Dr Makkar said he regretted giving “stupid answers” to the journalist. He had been “tired, confused, and upset after a long day dealing with emotional patients”.1

    Deliberation about ethics is often muddied by the personalities involved in a particular issue. Many people are uninspired by Richard Seed or Jack Kevorkian. This contaminates their view about the much broader and important issues such as cloning or euthanasia that Seed and Kevorkian, whom some people might describe as mavericks, have shoved their finger in.

    Discussion of the sale of organs is …